FIFA World Cup ignites soccer fever in Taipei as fans hit local bars
Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) Fans have begun hitting local bars in Taipei to enjoy the FIFA World Cup on giant screens and plenty of snacks and refreshments on tap as one of the world's most watched sports event opened in Qatar to mixed reviews.
Over 100 soccer fans packed into the Brass Monkey to watch the England-Iran match that began Monday at 9 p.m. Taipei time, including Filipino-Taiwanese Alex Hsu (許啓後), who said the World Cup was a global event that brought people of different backgrounds together.
"Even though the World Cup does not have teams from Taiwan or the Philippines, it's a good event that bonds people from east and west together," Hsu said.
Hsu said he was supporting Brazil this year because of that country's history of great players.
An Australian in Taiwan on a business trip, who wished to be identified as "Mal," said he was also at the Brass Monkey early Monday morning to watch the opening match of the World Cup between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.
"The atmosphere was quite good for the first night. The first game wasn't a thriller, so I think as the games progress and the better teams start to play, you'll find there's going to be a hell of a lot of more people wanting to get amongst it," Mal said.
Brass Monkey general manager Alex Warner said he was expecting lively crowds for the rest of the games because people can now go out more freely.
"People have been locked up for the past three years waiting for a big international event to celebrate together and now it feels COVID is a thing of the past, so I think people are ready to come out to support their countries, support the game," the Canadian said.
Though there are plenty of fans watching the World Cup this year, some of them in Taipei still backed the criticisms of the event that have been voiced internationally.
Steve, a Brit who has been living in Taiwan for six years, told CNA he did not think the World Cup should have been held in Qatar.
"I'm disgusted by the corruption. Even though the captain of the Iran team said publicly that he stood with the protesters in Iran, nothing changed as two days has passed. And also, the bribery issue of Qatar as the host," he said while watching the England vs. Iran match at Hooters' Chingcheng outlet.
Prior to Iran's opening game on Monday night against England, Iran players refused to sing their national anthem as a form of silent support for the anti-government protesters in their country.
Meanwhile, Irene Lin (林于楨), manager of Hooters' Chingcheng store, was impressed by Monday's crowd, but she said there should be more customers for the Germany-Japan match Wednesday night.
The event in Qatar is the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in the winter in the Northern Hemisphere instead of the summer for the first time since the tournament's inauguration in 1930.
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