World Cup: A time of pleasure for Hanoi football fans
While watching a game at home is fine, being at a café or restaurant is a great way to socialize with other fans.
Every four years, Hanoians experience the emotions evoked by the players during the world's biggest football festival, the World Cup, with friends and family.
|While people are sharing drinks with friends, showing a live soccer game in a restaurant is a great way to create an exciting atmosphere and attract customers. Photo: Duy Khanh/The Hanoi Times
Vietnamese football fans are known for their crazy love of the sport. Sleepless nights are not a problem as long as people can watch live matches.
The most favorite sport in the country has one virtue: it brings people together to watch it.
For 24 years since the FIFA World Cup 1998 hosted by France, Hoang Xuan Quang, a 34-year-old resident of Kham Thien Street in Hanoi’s Dong Da District, has never missed a World Cup tournament.
Like many fans in the world, Quang loves to watch Brazilian players on the pitch. “The first match I watched was the opening game of World Cup 1998 between Brazil and Scotland,” he told The Hanoi Times.
“I was watching the game with my father and younger brother. We all fell in love with Brazilian stars, just like everybody else,” he said.
Until now, Quang is still a fan of Brazil. “I was shocked that my dream team lost to Germany by six goals in the semifinal round of the 2014 World Cup," he said.
“That is my worst memory of the game.”
Tran Van Toan, a resident of Chuong Duong Commune in Thuong Tin District, remembered the old time when his family had the only black-and-white television in the neighborhood.
“At night, people came and gathered at my house, waiting together until the match began,” he said.
“A lot of people came. We all loved football, even though we didn’t spell the players’ names correctly.”
|A man shows his grim face when watching the match between England and Iran on November 21. Photo: Duy Khanh/The Hanoi Times
“Occasionally, our cheers were too loud, and we woke others up. But it was fine because everyone knew the World Cup only came once every four years.”
Some grown-ups still remember how it felt when friends joined together to watch the games.
"Some drinks and snacks are a must when we watch the World Cup back then, as we go to the cafe or restaurant as a group," said Ta Thanh Tung from Hai Ba Trung District.
“The games took place at midnight, so sometimes we started heading home at 4-5am,” Tung said. “We all were sleepy.”
Manh Quan, the owner of a restaurant on Doc Ngu Street in Ba Dinh District, said that he had received a lot of reservations for the match between England and Iran.
“Most people want us to set their tables at the center of the restaurant and close to the screen. Hopefully, more customers will come to enjoy the matches and our food.”
For everyone, the 2022 World Cup hosted by Qatar could be the last time Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi play for their national teams in an international tournament.
"It's a great time with Ronaldo and Messi competing against each other on every inch of the pitch," Quang said.
"The two players have already reached the last stage of their careers. They are going to shine one last time for their nations," he added.
"So I wouldn't like to see them playing alone."
Peter Cowan, from Northern Ireland, remembered he had to wear a football shirt to class to support the World Cup 2002 in Japan and South Korea. The stadium is definitely the best place to watch football, Peter said.
“Going to bars and restaurants to watch is fun too,” he said. “But it’s hard to do that every time while we still have to work the next day.”
Peter said he has been working in Vietnam since 2015 and he had the chance to enjoy the air during the World Cup 2018 in Russia.
“There was a great atmosphere at the bars I went to. Vietnamese people are extremely passionate football fans,” Peter said, referring to the fact that local people are willing to stay up until 4am for a football match.
Technological advancements have made it easier for people to watch the World Cup via portable electronic devices and prepaid applications, especially when the World Cup 2022 is underway in December, an unusual time to watch.
|A Grab deliveryman watches England play against Iran on his smartphone. Photo: Duy Khanh/The Hanoi Times
Usually, the World Cup, as well as other international competitions such as the UEFA European Championship and the CONMEBOL Copa America, often takes place in June-July after the club season ends, Pham Duc Quan, a 33-year-old government official, told The Hanoi Times.
“On the contrary, the World Cup 2022 in Qatar is held in December, and it is hard for Vietnamese fans to follow the tournament,” he said.
“People have lots of work to do at the end of the year while students can’t skip class just because they oversleep from watching late games the night before,” Quan said.
He said he would consider watching the matches on his smartphone at home instead of going out and joining late parties with his friends.
For some people working the night shift, a smartphone is the only way to catch up with the tournament.
A Grab delivery man was watching England, his favorite national team, play Iran on November 21. At the final whistle, England beat Iran 6-2.
He told The Hanoi Times that he watches the game on a smartphone. "It's impossible to watch the whole game because I would have orders to deliver soon."
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