Euro 2016: Fan eager to go for more major tournaments after trip to France

Tang Wanbao outside the 80,000-capacity Stade de France in Paris last Sunday, when hosts France beat Iceland 5-2 to reach the semi-finals.
Tang Wanbao outside the 80,000-capacity Stade de France in Paris last Sunday, when hosts France beat Iceland 5-2 to reach the semi-finals.PHOTO: COURTESY OF TANG WANBAO

The match took only 90 minutes but Tang Wanbao was left with memories to last a lifetime when he watched his favourite team France beat Iceland 5-2 to advance to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Not only was he treated to a goal fest but the vocal strength of the 9,000 visiting Iceland fans as they cheered their team on also gave the Singaporean goosebumps at the 80,000-capacity Stade de France last Sunday.

The 45-year-old manager at a pharmaceutical firm said: "They were as loud as the French, even though they were only about a few thousand in number.

"I have been to Malaysian Super League and S-League matches with my son, but the atmosphere was totally different. It's like watching a local drama versus Hollywood."

Tang was in Paris and Marseille from June 25 to Monday as the winner of the top prize of The Straits Times-Komoco Motors Euro 2016 contest. He joined a travelling group of 40 Singaporeans who attended three matches: Italy v Spain, Poland v Portugal (round of 16) and France v Iceland (quarter-finals).

The Les Bleus fan was thrilled to witness France score five goals - including one by his favourite player Paul Pogba - in a match. The last time Didier Deschamps' men accomplished that feat was at the 2014 World Cup, when they trounced Switzerland 5-2.

Tang, whose son Jaden is captain of Hong Wen School's football team, was also relieved that there was no upset - and not just for football reasons. He said: "We were afraid that if the French lost, they would riot and we would not be able to go back to the hotel."

He noted the heightened level of security in France, especially in Marseille, where riot police patrolled the streets "just next to the British fans", and were a visible presence inside the stadium too.

Security checks were stringent and he had to leave his hotel three hours to get to the stadiums even though they were just 1km away.

No power banks were allowed to be brought into the venues, which meant that he could not go trigger-happy when taking photos.

He said: "I had to ration the number of photos and videos I took, so that the battery didn't run out."

Tang says the trip has ignited a hunger to go for more major tournaments in future. He thanked Komoco for its "great hospitality and generous sponsorship during the trip".

He said: "This trip was more than I could bargain for. In fact, it has also triggered the thirst to go for more of such tournaments, to experience it live at the stadium. Maybe next time, (I'll go) with my son."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Fan eager to go for more major tournaments after trip to France'. Print Edition | Subscribe