World Cup 2018

Fans in S'pore join world's greatest football party

Guests at The Straits Times' viewing party cheering at 1-Altitude bar in Raffles Place, where 60 lucky subscribers and their plus ones joined ST staff and partners to catch the final. Croatia fans watch with their hearts sinking in Boat Quay. Ship ca
French supporters celebrating at Chijmes, where about 3,000 fans gathered to watch the final last night. France beat Croatia 4-2 to capture the World Cup for the second time, in a thrilling match that delighted supporters.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Guests at The Straits Times' viewing party cheering at 1-Altitude bar in Raffles Place, where 60 lucky subscribers and their plus ones joined ST staff and partners to catch the final. Croatia fans watch with their hearts sinking in Boat Quay. Ship ca
Guests at The Straits Times’ viewing party cheering at 1-Altitude bar in Raffles Place, where 60 lucky subscribers and their plus ones joined ST staff and partners to catch the final.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Guests at The Straits Times' viewing party cheering at 1-Altitude bar in Raffles Place, where 60 lucky subscribers and their plus ones joined ST staff and partners to catch the final. Croatia fans watch with their hearts sinking in Boat Quay. Ship ca
Croatia fans watch with their hearts sinking in Boat Quay. Ship captain Danko Matulovic said: “We are a small country, and it is a success to even reach the final.”PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Guests at The Straits Times' viewing party cheering at 1-Altitude bar in Raffles Place, where 60 lucky subscribers and their plus ones joined ST staff and partners to catch the final. Croatia fans watch with their hearts sinking in Boat Quay. Ship ca
The crowd watching the game at Singapore Sports Hub’s OCBC Square. Some 4,500 fans were there, with some arriving from 7pm. ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN
The crowd watching the game at Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Square. Some 4,500 fans were there, with some arriving from 7pm.
The ecstatic crowd cheering the result at the Champ de Mars in Paris. France’s victory came just one day after it celebrated Bastille Day. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Subscribers, other guests attend ST viewing party; thousands gather at many other spots

Sport is all about movement. But large parts of Singapore came to a standstill for the culmination of the world's greatest football party last night.

Football fans gathered on the ground, in the air, at home and in a variety of public places to watch France beat Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup final in Moscow.

At 1-Altitude in Raffles Place, 60 lucky subscribers and their plus ones joined 80 staff and partners of The Straits Times to catch the final at the world's highest al fresco bar.

The exclusive viewing party, which took place 282m above sea level, afforded them breathtaking sights of the city centre.

The occasion also saw a small ceremony to mark ST's 173rd birthday. ST editor Warren Fernandez cut a cake, adorned with the front page of the first edition of the paper, while a bottle of champagne was popped. All 200 guests also tucked into cupcakes from Sweetest Moments which were decorated with flags of the World Cup finalists.

Said subscriber Ng Say Peng, 44, and a Croatia fan: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was praying for good weather the whole day and I'm glad that we're so high up in the sky here, watching a great game of football."

DREAM FULFILLED

It's so emotional for us when it (the final whistle) came. It's pure happiness for us. I remember the failures of 2006 (World Cup final) and 2016 (European Championship final) and it's a dream come true now. Finally, we get the trophy.

FRANCE FAN MATHIEU REGNIER, 20

Mr Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said: "We've got an exciting game here with several goals and it's lovely to be here with so many friends and supporters of ST, and everyone is having a great time."

The bulk of the 3,000 fans at Chijmes certainly enjoyed themselves. Many wore blue in support of France and chanted "Allez Les Bleus" throughout the night.

"This new generation of players have shown a different skill set and team spirit than previous teams," said Frenchman Arnaud Houles.

"Croatia have done well but they are the underdogs tonight, so I think it would be a failure if we lose against them," added the 24-year-old innovation catalyst.

Some 4,500 fans gathered at the Singapore Sports Hub's OCBC Square, with most decked in France jerseys.

Fans began arriving from 7pm and spilled out into the corridors and upper floors of the adjacent Kallang Wave Mall. Cheers bounced off the walls as the fans were treated to a thrilling finale to the competition.

"I've never seen so many people sitting informally at the Sports Hub and the noise level here is insane; I can barely hear anyone," said France fan Chua Wen Wei, a 28-year-old engineer.

Over at the Sahara Bar & Restaurant in Boat Quay, hopes of the 150 glum Croatia fans gathered there were momentarily lifted when Ivan Perisic equalised.

But the fans, who spilled out into the walkway outside the establishment, were shocked into stony silence as France's Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe scored in the second period.

Ship captain Danko Matulovic, 53, said: "No, no, we are not sad. We are a small country, and it is a success to even reach the final. These guys brought joy to our families back home and to the country. We are a miracle."

Deafening cheers punctuated the air at Chijmes, the OCBC Square and various locations at 12.53am, when referee Nestor Pitana blew the final whistle for a memorable French victory.

"I wanted to cry when the penalty was given (in the first half)," said Frenchman Adrien Belly, 22. "It was so crazy and awesome, and definitely the best game of our lives."

• Additional reporting by Sazali Abdul Aziz, Shamir Osman, Nicole Chia and Adrien Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2018, with the headline 'Fans in S'pore join world's greatest football party'. Print Edition | Subscribe