The Malta Independent 21 April 2019, Sunday

Time Of Gzira’s feast procession changed to accommodate World Cup final

Malta Independent Friday, 2 July 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

The Gzira parish, which celebrates its feast on 11 July, has decided to change the time of its procession to the morning, to avoid it clashing with the World Cup final in the evening.

Gzira mayor Chris Bonett said that preparations for the feast do not fall in the hands of the local council, but under the Archdiocese and parish.

“The Gzira local council does not interfere in Church matters. However, throughout the years, the village has had the misfortune of having its feast fall directly on the day of the World Cup final. People will be more eager to watch one of the biggest shows on earth rather than turn up for the spectacle of the Gzira feast, irrespective of the teams playing on the day. As a result, once every four years, the feast and the procession are unfortunately deserted, and only those who are not interested in football turn up.

“This time round however, the procession will take place in the morning on the day of the World Cup final, which will hopefully entice more people to the locality,” said Dr Bonett.

The Gzira mayor was in full praise of the daily work carried out by the police to ensure that traffic flows freely in the locality, as hundreds are gathering to watch the World Cup matches at the Gzira football pitch in Manoel Island.

“Thanks to the tremendous job by the police, the large volume of cars passing through Gzira since the start of the World Cup is, unlike four years ago, hardly being felt, and this despite the setting up of a World Cup village in Manoel Island. Not only is traffic constantly free flowing, but thankfully, no streets in Gzira, St Julian’s and Sliema have been closed to traffic because of excessive celebrations,” said Dr Bonett.

‘World Cup village a tremendous success’

Local interest in the World Cup has partly died down, after the England and Italy teams, which are heavily supported in Malta, got knocked out last week, explaining why carcades and street celebrations have been minimal this year.

Despite the two most popular teams in Malta no longer featuring in the World Cup, the organisers behind the World Cup village still consider their venue to be a “tremendous success”, while four of the remaining eight teams, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Spain, keep contributing to a very large gathering whenever they play, said Tonio Casapinta, managing director of the World Cup village.

“We have been very pleased with attendances for all matches shown live at the venue so far, despite the fact that, admittedly, England and Italy’s exits have put a damper on the business side of things, as both teams attracted a huge following.

“England’s failure was, in particular, a bitter pill to swallow, as hundreds used to gather at the village to watch their matches.

“Nevertheless, every World Cup match is bringing a new wave of surprises for everyone. Who could have predicted, for instance, that we would get a substantial number of Japanese fans at the World Cup village, belting out with pride their national anthem as the game between Japan and Paraguay was played last Wednesday?

“Moreover, whenever Holland and Ghana play, there is a swarm of Dutch and Ghanaian flags from supporters of both teams and which is usually matched by wild celebrations whenever they win, something we could never have predicted prior to the start of the tournament,” said Mr Casapinta.

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