World Cup: Singapore comes to a standstill as thousands gather to watch France-Croatia final

World cups fans gather at Singapore Sports Hub to catch the finals between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018.
World cups fans gather at Singapore Sports Hub to catch the finals between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018.ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN
ST editor Warren Fernandez (6th from right), ST sports editor Lee Yulin (7th from right), ST news editor Marc Lim (directly behind Yulin) and vice- president of EMTM Irene Ngoo (4th from right), along with ST's invited guests at the ST party and Worl
ST editor Warren Fernandez (6th from right), ST sports editor Lee Yulin (7th from right), ST news editor Marc Lim (directly behind Yulin) and vice- president of EMTM Irene Ngoo (4th from right), along with ST's invited guests at the ST party and World Cup final screening at 1-Altitude.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
(From left) ST editor Warren Fernandez poses with Ms Jasmin Chew, group pastry chef and Mr Ian Sim, director of nightlife operation at the ST party & World Cup final screening at 1-Altitude.
(From left) ST editor Warren Fernandez poses with Ms Jasmin Chew, group pastry chef and Mr Ian Sim, director of nightlife operation at the ST party & World Cup final screening at 1-Altitude.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
World cups fans gather at Singapore Sports Hub to catch the finals between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018.
World cups fans gather at Singapore Sports Hub to catch the finals between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018.ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN
Guests watching the World Cup final screening at 1-Altitude on July 16, 2018.
Guests watching the World Cup final screening at 1-Altitude on July 16, 2018.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Fans gather at Singapore Sports Hub to catch the World Cup finals between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018.
Fans gather at Singapore Sports Hub to catch the World Cup finals between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018. ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN
France fans at Chijmes react as their team wins the 2018 World Cup against Croatia on July 15, 2018.
France fans at Chijmes react as their team wins the 2018 World Cup against Croatia on July 15, 2018. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Ms Beth Percival 20, Mr Stephen Partridge 27 and David Majebi 25 who are all from London, cheer for France after the final whistle at 1-Altitude, on July 16, 2018.
Ms Beth Percival 20, Mr Stephen Partridge 27 and David Majebi 25 who are all from London, cheer for France after the final whistle at 1-Altitude, on July 16, 2018. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Sport is all about movement. But large parts of Singapore came to standstill for the culmination of the world's greatest football party on Sunday (July 15) 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 along 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 champagne was served.

All 200 guests also tucked in to cupcakes from Sweetest Moments which were decorated with flags of the World Cup countries.

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."

Mr Fernandez, 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."

 
 
 

Ian Sim, 1-Altitude's director of nightlife operations, said: "The team were extremely happy to be hosting the Straits Times and their readers for the screening. Both our venues 1-Altitude and Altimate were also fully booked. It was a really exciting match. The vibe and energy from our guests were amazing and we are extremely happy to have had this opportunity to be a part of the World Cup."

The bulk of the 3,000 fans at Chijmes also 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.

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

With fans arriving since 7pm and spilling into the corridors and the upper floors of the adjacent Kallang Wave Mall, the 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't barely hear anyone," said France fan Chua Wen Wei, a 28-year-old engineer.

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

But the fans, who spilled onto the walkway outside the establishment, were shocked into stony silence as Frenchman 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."