Let’s get the ball rolling!
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
There are few things that can truly rally people from every creed, nation, and socioeconomic group, but every four years, one such rare phenomenoncomes around: the FIFA World Cup. Whether you’re a diehard fan who was practically born in the team’s colours; you’re only following a specific player because his skills have Messi-ed with your heart; or like me, you can only muster the ability to care about sports-related updates in four-year intervals; this season brings people together like few other events can.
But with Thailand and India out of the big leagues, who do fans in the community support, and why? We’ve asked community members to spill the penal-tea, plus what makes this championship so special.
Head of South Asia Equity Trading, Credit Suisse
The FIFA World Cup has been special for me since I was a child. A memory that has stuck with me through the years was that of the 1986 FIFA World Cup finals, Germany v Argentina. I was just 10 years old and it was on a school night, and my dad, without any argument, allowed me to stay up and watch the finals with him. After that, it became something I did with my dad, and now it’s one of the ways I connect with my kids, especially my two boys who are older. Kids grow up so fast, so as a parent, you’re always looking for some commonality and some way to communicate, so for me, I use the World Cup and football as a whole.
The other reason I love the World Cup is that I like seeing all these big personalities in different clubs gather together, put aside their egos and rivalries, and represent their country with a common goal, which I find very intriguing and interesting to watch.
I spent the first 18 years of my life in Japan, so the team I would usually support is Japan. However, I think they’ll have an abysmal performance this year [Laughs]. They’ve been placed in quite a strong group, so I’ll be surprised if they’ll pass the group stage. Aside from Japan, my second team is Portugal, because I’m a huge Ronaldo fan.
The World Cup is my thing, so I watch almost all the games, even if it means I only get a couple of hours of sleep before going to work. Before, I’d watch the matches with my friends in bars and the like, but now, since my kids are growing up, I take them along with me, or we watch at home. There’s actually a funny story related to that – one year, I’d promised my kids that I’d watch a morning game with them. However, the matches before were in the wee hours of the morning, and my friends and I had stayed up watching them in a pub. Because the morning match was at 7am, we decided to stay up all night before picking up our kids and bringing them to the pub to watch the game. We soon realised that it was a bit of a mistake because everyone in the pub had also pulled all-nighters, so they were wasted – I don’t think it was the best example for our kids! [Laughs] But at least we kept our promise to them.
I haven’t flown out to watch the World Cup yet, and it’s quite a pity as the World Cup in 1998 was held in Japan. However, by then I had moved to Thailand and had just started my new job, and was too scared to take time off. I regret that till today! This year however, my two boys and I are scheduled to go to the two quarterfinal games in Qatar, and hopefully it’ll be a great bonding experience for us.
ACHIT ‘AJAY’ GULATI
Business Owner (textiles trading and export)
The FIFA World Cup is the most widely-viewed single sporting event in the world, and since it’s held only once in four years, that adds to the excitement. Football is my favourite sport as I have played and followed it since I was 12. Some of the best players in the world play in the World Cup and just playing there is such an honour; winning it is the most prestigious trophy for any player. Unfortunately, I doubt I will ever see Thailand or India play in my lifetime!
I’ve supported England since I was 12, because since then, I’ve followed what is now the English Premier League. Almost all the English Premier League players play for England, and I know all them, and I have strong opinions on who should be in the squad, and who should play in which position.
I still remember my first World Cup which was the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and my first televised England game, which was England v Argentina. It was the first time they’d televised live games from the quarterfinals onwards – they only started televising every game live since the 1990 World Cup in Italy. When I was younger, I watched almost all the games live, even the ones at 2am. Now I will pick and choose the matches, but I’ll still watch all the England games live! As for the other games, these days I’ll only watch the big games or the ones in the later knock-out rounds that are televised late at night.
I was not yet born in 1966, so I’ve never seen England lift the World Cup. This year, I think they will once again lose in penalties, most likely in the quarterfinals. Time and time again, I’ve watched them lose in penalties which has been frustrating. The best I’ve seen them perform is when they reached the semifinals in 1990, and 2018, and I do hope to see that again, or see them win!
Unfortunately, I’ve never watched a World Cup game live in a stadium, but hopefully one day I will. Usually, I just meet with friends and watch at pubs like Robin Hood and Londoners, etc., during which I’ll wear the England jersey. Honestly, one of the best parts of the World Cup is getting the chance to socialise with your friends. The game is so much more exciting with the loud cheering from the crowd around you.
Small business owner
Here in Thailand, people are crazy about football so when it comes to the FIFA World Cup, which is a major event organised once in four years, the thrill and excitement is doubled. This thrill brings life to us football fans around the world.
I’ve supported Germany since my childhood days, because of their ‘never say die’ attitude – they don’t give up until the whistle is blown. I hope they can do as well as they can, with no heartbreak like their loss to Korea last time, which knocked them out in the first round. I would love to see them lift the FIFA World Cup trophy for the fifth time to equalise the Brazilian national team. I hope they do their best this year, but either way, win or lose, the fun of football stays forever.
Usually, I watch the matches with my friends in a pub or a nice restaurant; the more the merrier. Having a glass of ice cold-beer with good friends definitely adds to the excitement, and we always make fun of the friends whose teams lose, which adds to the atmosphere of friendly teasing. We do bet on the games, but just for the entertainment, not to make money.
A very funny incident I’ll always remember was when I was watching the Korea v Germany match, and Germany was the favourite to win. I was very confident in their win and was teasing my friend about it, but in the end, I had to hide my face when Germany was knocked out in the first round!
Businessman (textiles and trading)
I’ve been a lifelong fan of football, from the time I was a young boy in school, till now when I still play football even in my 40s. The FIFA World Cup brings excitement, togetherness, and unites fans across the globe. Teams that play in the World Cup represent their country and their people—there’s nothing more empowering.
I mostly watch the World Cup with my family, and my kids and I stay up to watch the fun games. It really depends on the match and who’s playing – if there’s a good pairing, I usually stay up despite the time difference.
I’ve always supported England, as I am an avid fan of the English Premier League, so that trickled down to me supporting England. The World Cup is always tough, with many great teams all around, so it’s hard to predict who’ll win this year. I love cheering for England every time, and I have far too many Liverpool jerseys, so I would wear those, but everyone knows England is overhyped. [Laughs] But it’s great banter between friends and family, and it creates great memories all around.
WHERE TO WATCH THE FIFA WORLD CUP 2022 LIVE IN BANGKOK
Since no broadcaster in Thailand has secured the broadcast rights for the FIFA World Cup yet, the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) has purchased the licensing rights to live broadcast all 64 matches. These places are usually guaranteed to play the games:
- The Royal Oak
- The Sportsman Sports Bar and Restaurant
- The Sport Corner – Sports Bar and Grill
- The Robin Hood Pub
- The Kiwi Sports Pub & Grill Bangkok
- The Game Bangkok
- The Londoner Brew Pub
- 4 Sports Bar