Jumping Jimmy strikes again
Moments before the 2010 Fifa World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, notorious serial pitch-invader Jaume Marquet i Cot, aka Jimmy Jump, made his presence known at a heavily policed Soccer City. The 34-year-old Spaniard surpassed his previous showmanship by running onto football’s biggest stage and attempting to place a traditional red Catalan cap (barretina) on the World Cup trophy. He was promptly tackled by security and fined R2000 for his trouble. This was his latest stunt in a long list of humorous attempts at sabotage.
Jimmy Jump, a well-known Barcelona fan, has interfered in several major football matches in the past, including the 2007 Uefa Champions League final and the 2006 Champions League semi-final between Villareal and Arsenal. At the latter, he handed Thierry Henry a Barcelona jersey emblazoned with Henry’s name and the number 14. The striker later transferred to Barca, taking that very number.
His stunt targets have not been limited to the realm of football. Marquet was arrested in 2009 for attempting to place a barretina, a symbol of Catalan independence, on Roger Federer’s head during the French Open final. This “crowning” of the tennis star was allegedly a gesture against his rival Rafael Nadal, a Real Madrid supporter, and saw the prankster facing a possible prison sentence.
In 2010, just weeks prior to the Fifa World Cup, he gatecrashed the hugely popular Eurovision Song Contest, walking on stage and participating in the routine of fellow Spaniard Daniel Diges’ backup dancers during the group’s performance of “Algo pequeñito” (“Something tiny”).
In his most daring stunt, Marquet ran through the starting grid during the warm-up lap of the 2004 Spanish Grand Prix.
The Catalonian’s “performances” have often taken a political turn. Indeed, he sported a t-shirt emblazoned with “Jimmy Jump against racism” for his World Cup final appearance.
Jimmy Jump has emerged as a controversial figure in world sport. His manager, Alex Sola, says, “Jimmy does what he does because he feels free.” Marquet himself describes “jumping” as his “destiny”. He claims to be heavily in debt due to all the fines he receives, and lives off donations from his fans. He is not without his fair share of detractors though, with many football aficionados regarding him as nothing more than an attention seeker.