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Daryl Chin
Sunday, Jul 6, 2014

Sports

Expats find fave spots to root for their countries

The Straits Times | Daryl Chin | Sunday, Jul 6, 2014

Robertson Quay is the place to be for expatriates when the FIFA World Cup quarter finals get underway.

WORLD Cup football fever is set to get even hotter this weekend, with eight teams through to the quarter-finals.

But as the drama plays out far away in Brazil, where will the ardent fans of these eight nations go to cheer on their teams in Singapore?

For many expatriates working here, the home away from home seems to be Robertson Quay. "I've been to a couple of places, but Robertson Quay has the biggest crowds, the best atmosphere and feels closest to what it's like at home," says die-hard Germany supporter Christine Poeschl.

With the recognisable flag colours of black, red and yellow painted on her cheeks and the national anthem on her lips, the 43-year-old - who grew up an hour's drive away from Cologne - has caught every match Germany have played in these Finals, even those in the wee hours.

It helps that her company - where she is vice-president for finance - is also German. "My bosses understand my passion perfectly. Some of them are even there with me," she quipped.

Other popular places among Germans include pubs Brotzeit at Raffles City and Paulaner Brauhaus at Millenia Walk.

Tonight, Germany will face old rivals France at 11.55pm, and Poeschl might very well bump into some French fans should she head down to Robertson Quay.

"There are 15,000 French people in Singapore, and I hear many of them are heading down to the quay," says Genevieve Grosliere, president of the French Association of Singapore.

Frenchman Karim Tabet, 35, singled out the square in the middle of Robertson Walk as his favourite viewing spot. "When the crowds get going, it almost feels like a real stadium," said the engineer.

But what of the Brazilian fans here?

Besides Robertson Quay, many of the estimated 900 Brazilians here are heading over to the Hollandse Club to make merry, according to the Brazilian Embassy.

The Hollandse Club along Camden Park has thrown its doors open to the public for match screenings, and its commercial manager, Daniel van Dijk, said that close to 200 Brazilians turned up when Brazil drew with Chile in their last-16 tie before prevailing on penalties.

But the majority of its fan base, he adds, are Dutch. Some 700 of them showed up when the Netherlands sent Mexico packing on Monday morning, with many of them in trademark orange-coloured attire.

"Wearing a bit of orange is the minimum, but some fans are more exuberant. In the last game, one guy came dressed as a milkmaid," he said.

Others have taken a more practical approach.

Max Gregoire, 32, a business planner and the sole Belgian in a Brazilian mining company here, has been waking up at 4am at home to get his football fix.

"This weekend I'll be wearing my jersey to Robertson Quay to catch the match (against Argentina). I'll just have to be a bit more careful, if it's us against Brazil in the final," he said.


This article was first published on July 4, 2014.
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