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World Cup 2010: Indonesia roots for former foe

Many Indonesians will support Holland Sunday despite its role as a former colonial occupier.

Indonesians celebrate World Cup 2010
Soccer fans march with painted faces and various national flags through the streets in Makassar, a city in Indonesia's South Sulawesi province on June 10, 2010. Many Indonesia's will be supporting the Netherlands, their former colonial ruler, in the upcoming World Cup final. (Yusuf Ahmad/Reuters)

JAKARTA — When Spain and the Netherlands face off Sunday millions of Indonesians will be watching. They’ll fill back alleyways to cluster around televisions flickering with static, as they have for every game during this year’s World Cup. And in what may seem an ironic twist, many will be cheering for their country’s former colonial occupier – the Netherlands.

Despite not having a team in soccer’s biggest championship, Indonesians have World Cup fever. And since broadcast rights were granted to free-to-air television channels, anyone with a T.V. and antenna can watch it. Where Indonesians' allegiances fall is particularly interesting, because one might think they would side against the country with which they fought a war of independence.

But historical relations don’t matter to Noyo, a motorcycle taxi driver who shrugs his shoulders when asked why he would support the country that once ruled over his own.

“Who cares,” he said. “It’s football.”

He says he is rooting for the Netherlands because they’re faster and all of the men working around him agree. Riyan pulls a wad of crumpled bills from his pocket to show how serious they are about the match up.

“We’ve all put in our bets – Rp500,000 each,” he said. And $55 is no small bones, considering the most they make a day is about $10.

Across the street from Noyo’s taxi stand a man who cuts keys for a living said he thinks the Netherlands has the better goalie. In fact, many people said they are supporting the Netherlands based on the team’s technique.