Fans flock to free live World Cup screenings across Singapore
The first weekend of the 2018 World Cup has just gone by, and football fans are flocking to the many free live screenings around Singapore.
Organisations holding such screenings told The New Paper that hundreds of Singaporeans have turned up to watch the matches played in Russia.
The People's Association (PA) is one such organisation, with screenings at 55 community clubs (CC) and Our Tampines Hub.
At the previous World Cup in 2014, it had held screenings at 40 CCs, adding 17 more after the group stage.
A PA spokesman told The New Paper yesterday: "Since the opening match on Thursday night, we have seen as many as 600 fans coming to watch every night at various CCs, such as Bishan, Cheng San, Keat Hong and Tampines West."
The spokesman added that the PA expects a total turnout of at least 600,000 fans this year due to favourable match timings, 30,000 more than the 2014 World Cup, which was held in Brazil. This time round, 38 out of 64 matches will be played before midnight. There were no such matches in 2014.
For the first time, Changi Airport has also held screenings for the public. A spokesman for the airport told TNP it saw the largest turnout for the Spain-Portugal match on early Saturday morning, with close to 300 people turning up to watch at Terminal 3.
Resorts World Sentosa is also slated to host viewing sessions at its sprawling ballroom and theatre for the knockout stages from June 30 onwards.
The integrated resort said yesterday that seven large screens will be set up in the ballroom for screenings of the semi-finals and final.
Live performances, food and meet-and-greet sessions with local footballing icons such as Fandi Ahmad are also planned.
Yew Tee CC is one of the CCs to screen live matches for group stage matches.
Grassroots volunteer Mr C. Manoharan, 54, who helps coordinate the World Cup screenings at Yew Tee CC, said his team found out about the matches that Yew Tee CC would be screening only about two weeks before the opening match last week.
He said: "Even before the announcement by the PA, residents were already asking us if the World Cup would be screened in the CC."
He added: "Attendance has been increasing with every match."
Mr Clement Chandru, 55, an engineer, said: "It will get even more crowded when top teams play each other, especially when we get to the knockout stages.
"We see familiar faces coming back for multiple matches."
Both men agree that the convivial atmosphere of a mass public screening keeps residents coming back.
Said Mr Manoharan: "There is no spirit in watching the game alone at home. Watching the sport together allows people to unite and form friendships."