Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Clash of Traditional Rivals

The World Cup is nearly upon us, and the match we've all been waiting for is just around the corner. 19 Jun, 10:30pm (AEST), Togo v Switzerland. The long history of Togolese/Swiss sporting enmity is well known. In table tennis, synchronised swimming, badminton, luge, it's well known that the pace will be frenetic and the stakes high when these two nations are matched against one another.

Some say it goes back to the late 19th century when Togolese cocoa exporters and Swiss chocolate makers waged a fierce trade war that was settled with a game of tip'n'run cricket. Disagreement about a close run-out festered, such that today it is one of the world's pre-eminent sporting rivalries, as intense as England/Australia and Namibia/Rumania.

The people of Togo have always found the square flag of Switzerland annoying. They feel it demonstrates that the Swiss think they are special, above everyone else. For their part, the Swiss mock Togo for being a "funny-shaped" country, for their lack of interest in cheese and inability to make decent clocks.

The stage is set for a humdinger. Only 26 sleeps to go.


Chief Wellington (via Chris) said...

The Swiss - Togo rivalry was originally ignited in 1852 when Togolese pirates,operating out of Lome, stole a 3.7 million ton ornamental blue whale made from whittled limestone and calves teeth. The whale was on loan to Switzerland from Norway and to this day it has never been recovered but it is thought to remain a heavily guarded secret at an undisclosed location in Togo.

chris rees said...

Of course, there is a third theory, involving the hooves of the rare and beautiful Togolese Coughing Zebra, and the so called "hoof cleaner combination tool" of the Swiss Army knife. These tools are configured solely for conventional horses and are NOT zebra compliant. The Swiss army, navy AND airforce have all been responsible for peddling these substandard units in Togo and also Burkina Faso, leading to a lot of zebras developing dud hammies, rupturing cruciates etc.

It is this travesty of fair trade that is getting folks in Lomé hot under the mbanga.