The Eurovision Song Contest and the World Cup might not appear to have much in common. Both are competitions between nations, yet what they test is quite different. However, it is hard to disagree that the most recent iterations of both were some of the dullest yet, and required something a little different to provide entertainment. For many, Jimmy Jump’s cameo provided that much needed spark of imagination and humour.
Jimmy Jump is a serial pitch invader from Spain. He has amassed an impressive tally of pitch invasions, or ‘jumps’, as he likes to call them. His ‘jump’ from the World Cup final of 2010 between Spain and Holland is arguably his most famous, as it left us with an iconic image of him being taken out by FIFA security literally centimetres from the trophy. It was an impressive show of fleet of foot that even Messi himself would have been proud of.
Others include cameos at the Rugby World Cup final of 2007 between England and South Africa, the Euro 2004 final between Greece and Portugal, the 2007 Champions league final between AC Milan and Liverpool, and even an appearance at the 2004 Spanish Grand Prix, in which he managed to run through the starting grid before the parade lap began.
At times, Jimmy’s purpose seems to be political. In the 2010 World Cup final, he was sporting an anti-racist message on his t-shirt; during an invasion in the Euro 2008 semi-final, he carried a Tibet flag declaring ‘Tibet is not China’. However commendable that is, it does not always seem to be his prerogative. His website lists that his aim is purely to ‘make the whole world laugh at his funny and great performances’. Whilst he may have achieved that, especially with his well-timed intervention during another terribly dull Eurovision Song contest, many of his other ‘jumps’ seem to relate merely to his obsessive support of FC Barcelona.
During the 2004 Champions League semi-final, for example, he ran on to the pitch and threw a Barcelona shirt on Thierry Henry (then of Arsenal), with Henry’s name and number on the back. During a Hungarian derby match between Ujpest and Ferencvaros in 2010, Jimmy ran through the field with a Catalan flag displaying the message ‘Kubala Forever’ on it – in adoration of the Barcelona legend and former Hungary international. He even managed to invade a weather forecast on Hungarian channel TV2, running towards the microphone chanting wildly ‘Barca! Barca!’ – much to the surprise of the presenters.
His trademark, though, is the deployment of the ‘Barrentina’. The Barrentina is a small red hat that is closely associated with Catalan culture. Jimmy has successfully managed to don one on Samuel Eto’os’ head before, as well as attempts on Roger Federer in the 2009 French Open final – an attempt which ended comically as Jimmy tangled himself in the net whilst trying to jump it – and the FIFA World Cup trophy itself in 2010.
Whatever Jimmy’s purpose may be, his pitch invading prowess is certainly impressive, and his occasional, if somewhat random, display of political messages is commendable. Attention seeking he may be, but who doesn’t love a good pitch invader?
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