Excited soccer fans gathered in and around downtown Taipei in the early hours of yesterday, defying the heat and sleepiness to cheer as they watched Germany take on Argentina in the FIFA World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In the city’s Xinyi District (信義), home to many sports restaurants and bars, fans rooted for their teams during the tense showdown and watched with excitement — or dismay — as Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the second half of extra-time to win the title for the first time in 24 years.
“That goal was too quick for me to absorb,” 20-year-old Argentina supporter Lin Shih-chieh said of the last-gasp strike by Germany’s Mario Goetze.
Although his side did not lift the trophy, a visibly exhausted Lin said he and his friends had been lucky to have found a place to watch the match.
Lin said they had scoured the city since midnight to find a spot they could sit down for the match, before finally finding space in a McDonald’s, where they watched the game with about 80 fans.
“I have never watched soccer with crowds. It’s very different,” said Liu Jung-yen, who along with 30 coworkers was busy taking photographs as they celebrated inside a TGI Fridays.
With a German flag painted on her cheek, the 24-year-old said she enjoyed watching crowds burst into cheers or jeers when either team got close to making a shot.
“We had all our 300 seats booked for today three weeks ago,” said restaurant manager Rossie Kuo, pointing at the patio with extra seats, two big screens and electric fans set up especially for the event.
She added that at another branch of the restaurant, patrons had asked if they could sit on the stairs to watch after finding out that all the seats were booked.
However, many other fans had the foresight to make their plans to see the final ahead of time, saying that burning the midnight oil to watch the World Cup half a planet away has become a part of their lives over the past month.
“I have been running on Brazil time since the quarter-finals,” 34-year-old fan Chiang Feng-ju said.
Along with about 100 fellow supporters, Chiang watched the final at the BLT Burger outlet, where he has watched four other matches.
There was no lack of enthusiasm among patrons of the Brass Monkey, a pub and restaurant, with representative Wayne Ku saying the venue’s 100 seats were fully booked by June 7.
World Cup fever has been good business for many restaurants, which have profited from offering live broadcasts and extended hours, with most reporting a rise in sales of between 20 and 40 percent.