Breaking News
Home / Sports / Four Countries. Two Games. One Goal.

Four Countries. Two Games. One Goal.

Watching the World Cup semifinals brought together fans across France, Belgium, England and Croatia who never set foot in Russia.

Clockwise from top left: World Cup fans in Croatia, Belgium, France and England.CreditClockwise from top left: Zoran Marinovic; Virginie Nguyen; Pete Kiehart; Andrew Testa, all for The New York Times

They gathered beneath giant screens in London, packed out bars in Brussels, filled the Old Town in Dubrovnik and the Vieux Port in Marseille. They painted their faces and wrapped flags round their shoulders. They bought plastic glasses of beer to throw in celebration, or down in sorrow. They crossed their fingers, and they held their breath.

Image
Abdel Benzaim hands a France flag to a patron outside his shop in Marseille, France, before the World Cup semifinal between France and Belgium.CreditPete Kiehart for The New York Times
A bar in Saint-Gilles, close to Brussels city center.CreditVirginie Nguyen for The New York Times
A cafe in London before the match.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

From early Tuesday morning until late Wednesday night, Belgium and France, England and Croatia came almost to a standstill, nervously anticipating the World Cup semifinals. Commuters donned national team jerseys to go to work. Shops closed, and bars opened, early.

For all that the world’s focus, for the last five weeks, has been on the multicultural carnival wheeling around Russia, the World Cup’s impact stretches far beyond the borders of its host.

A housing estate bedecked with England flags in West London.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times
French and Belgium flags hung on a terrace in the Cours Julien neighborhood of Marseille, France.CreditPete Kiehart for The New York Times

For those countries that reach its latter stages, it becomes something that happens at home, a national fixation, certainly, no matter where it is held, sweeping along even those who have no interest in sports. It leads news bulletins and distracts politicians; it is all anyone talks about, and, in the long hours before kickoff, it makes time pass more slowly.

Young men pass a soccer ball around in a square next to the Halle Puget in Marseille, France, before the World Cup semifinal.CreditPete Kiehart for The New York Times
A souvenir shop in Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia.CreditZoran Marinovic for The New York Times
The Belgian flag flying in a suburb of Brussels.CreditVirginie Nguyen for The New York Times
The French flag in Marseille, France.CreditPete Kiehart for The New York Times
Fans watching a game on Stradun Square in Dubrovnik, Croatia.CreditZoran Marinovic for The New York Times

All of that, though, was just the buildup, a way of expending the nervous energy of anticipation before kickoff arrived. At that moment — Tuesday night for France and Belgium; Wednesday for England and Croatia — whole cities ground to a halt. Normally bustling streets and humming subway stations stood empty. Millions, at home and in public, were glued to televisions and giant video screens, to events unfolding thousands of miles away. Over the course of two evenings, four countries waited, and watched, as one.

Fans sing France’s national anthem on the Quai de Rive Neuve in Marseille, France, following their team’s 1-0 victory.CreditPete Kiehart for The New York Times
Fans watching at The George Inn in the Borough area of London celebrate as England scores.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times
Fans celebrate France’s 1-0 victory in Marseille.CreditPete Kiehart for The New York Times
Croatia fans celebrate after a goal.CreditZoran Marinovic for The New York Times
England fans walk over London Bridge after the match.CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

About yogabeautyhealth

Check Also

Hernandez apologizes after criticizing quiet Dodgers fans

Dodgers infielder Enrique Hernandez apologized Tuesday after complaining “the fans had no energy” during Los …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: