On 12th June (Saturday), Ravi Thapaliya was watching the football world cup live between the English and American teams along with his friends at his apartment at Kensal Green in North-West London. As the England captain Steven Gerrard scored first goal just four minute after the match had kicked off, English football fans cheered at a local pub down the Harrow Road.
“I am a fan of English team but was upset to see the England goalkeeper Robert Green fail to stop the Americans,” he said. The matched ended in a draw 1-1.
Since the launch of the World Cup football on June 11th in the Soccer City in Johannesberg, South Africa, UK has already been gripped by football mania. Football lovers have put England world cup 2010 flags in front of their houses and also in their cars. Whether it is your drawing room or a local pub, football is the only topic in town.
“The World Cup is a uniquely unifying force in English life,” writes Jasper Rees, a veteran sports journalist, in The Telegraph daily. “Football is now a part of the national lifeblood, like the weather or soaps.”
A country that hosts one of the most ardent football fans in the world, Britain has high hopes from the on-going World Cup 2010. Speaking in Johannesberg, England captain Fabio Capello said his players were ready to play, both physically and mentally. "They're focused. Our challenge is to win. Nothing more," he declared.
While it’s too early to predict if the English team will be able to live up to the expectations of its fans and supporters back home, English pubs are doing brisk business cashing in on the bonanza. Unfortunately, Nepali restaurant entrepreneurs in the UK say they are yet to make any money out of the football fever.
“Since football fans prefer pubs over restaurants, we haven’t seen any surge in customers during the football season,” said Kishor Sapkota, a young Nepali entrepreneur who owns Gurkha Palace Restaurant at Folkestone.
Sapkota, who is also the sole distributor of Nepal Ice beer -- manufactured by the Chaudhari Group-- said since the product was mainly targeted to the restaurant-goers, he didn’t have any special plans to promote the beer during the world cup.
For football lovers though, the most popular sporting event in the world was a rare opportunity for which they had to wait for full four years.
Ravi Thapaliya supported South Korea during the previous world cup football in 2006 but was disappointed as his preferred team could not make it to the final. He recalls vividly how he enjoyed watching the final match between Italy and France in Kathmandu when Italy beat France by 5-3 in a penalty shootout.
“Though I miss my friends here, I don’t have to worry about the load-shedding or waking up till late in the morning to see my favourite matches,” he said.
If you are talking about football, it doesn’t matter where you are based. The global sporting event transcends the borders.