Ever since the FIFA World Cup began in mid-June, it’s been an endless cycle of late nights and get-togethers with friends to watch matches for fans of the sport in the city.
Having followed every World Cup since 2002, Aruna Natarajan, a fan, said the current tournament had been the most engaging ever. “With the best matches scheduled late in the night, all of us following the sport have stayed up and probably need to set our sleep cycles right after Sunday,” she added.
Ashwath Ram, a product consultant who is a staunch supporter of England, said he hadn’t watched a single game of his favourite team in the current edition. “Call it a weird coincidence, but I like to think I played my part in the team getting to the semi-finals. I’ve previously never missed a single game of theirs and just thought I’d do something different this time,” he said, crushed at the team’s loss to Croatia on Wednesday night.
The French community in the city has fingers crossed ahead of the hotly anticipated final between France and Croatia on Sunday.
Pierre-Emmanuel Jacob, director of the Alliance Francaise Chennai, said students as well as faculty of the institute were getting together for a screening on the institute’s terrace. “Chennai’s interest in the sport has been amazing and we’ve had an exciting few weeks,” he said.
Vivien Massot, a French national and managing director of TAC Economics India, hasn’t missed an opportunity to watch matches in a group.
“We visit screenings as a group of six to seven friends and I’ve enjoyed the atmosphere. We’ve planned to go for one of these screenings for the final too,” said Mr. Massot, who was gifted a football on Father’s Day, to play with his son.
The Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI) has been organising screenings in the city for the French business community at pubs in the city, such as Hix Kitchen and Bar and Madras Square. Merlin Sarah Simon, regional director-South India of IFCCI, said the audience, which included French, Danish and Belgium nationals, had enjoyed the matches.
“We had organised these matches with the Bureau de France, the annexe of the Consulate General of France in Puducherry and the Consulate of Belgium,” she said. The lively gatherings had about 70 participants on average.
Reason to travel
Not to miss out on the live action, several fans from the city have made a beeline to Russia to watch the matches and explore the country.
Vinodh Venkatesan, who works for a city-based start up, headed to Russia in June with a friend to watch a match in Moscow. “We really wanted to be a part of the World Cup experience and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. The visit helped us bust several myths about travelling to the country. The people there were extremely friendly and welcoming, adding to our experience,” he said.
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