By Chi-Hao James Lo ,The China Post
Four years after the ever so popular FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, the quadrennial competition has returned once more to extraordinary fanfare. The World Cup is celebrated worldwide on a scale arguably greater than the Olympics, since unlike the Olympic Games, the Football (the internationally favored name for soccer, and not the American sport) World Cup is the one event where the entire globe tunes in live at the same time to watch the sport that the most people care the most about.
With this year’s games being hosted by one of the strongest footballing nations, Brazil, the craze for watching the sport is only matched by the passion and love of the Brazilian people. The same love and passion can also be noticed in Taiwanese locals and foreign expats when, every four years, sports bars tailored for fans open at game time so people can enjoy a fun time with friends and some friendly competitiveness with supporters of rival teams. In the underground space of Der Lowe Bavarian restaurant, an interesting ambiance could be observed among Bavarian, Austrian and German patrons. Amid the interesting political dynamic between the countries is team Germany, which is both loved and not so loved by the German speaking population in Taiwan. “Well, the political situation between Germany and Austria is kind of similar to Taiwan and China,” said Austrian Tobias Winkler. “But as Germany is the team representing German speaking countries, I don’t really know if I should call myself a supporter of the team or not.” However, for other football fans such as Peter Schulz from Germany and Austrian Luca Egger, nationalities and sport don’t always have to contradict each other. “I am Austrian,” said Egger, “and Peter here is German, and we are both supporters of Germany!” “But more than supporters of Germany we are fans of Miroslav Klose,” Schulz added while Egger enjoyed a glass of Maxlrainer beer from Bavaria. At venues such as Brass Monkey, a diverse crowd can be seen gathering at the bar around two hours before the start of games. With the games being held early in the morning for those of us in Taiwan, the bar charges its patrons for entrance fee tickets that can then be used as currency to purchase breakfast while watching the match. When asked why he wakes up early on a weekday morning for games, football fan Jon Turner replied that, to him, watching “soccer” live with his buddies has long been a tradition for him in the United States, a tradition he carries on to this day in Taiwan. “I’ve always been a soccer fan,” said Turner, “and sure I don’t get to celebrate the World Cup with my regular friends at proper hours, but hey, I got friends here who can watch the games with me, too!” Regarding what she thought was done poorly in this year’s World Cup, football fan Irene Stanton said that she currently has a love-hate relationship with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). “FIFA has long been accused of corruption for monopolizing the World Cup single handedly,” said Stanton. “I feel that the alleged corruptions are more obvious than ever this year, from the association forcing Brazil to pass a stadium drinking law to accommodate World Cup sponsor Budweiser to pressuring the country to construct a football stadium in an unnecessary location when the money could’ve been used more wisely for the people. But still, I am still very entertained by the World Cup, and yes, I am still going to tune-in when I can.” In the weeks to come, the winning team of the World Cup 2014 will surface after intense eliminations. Though only available at early hours in the morning, Taiwan remains a hot spot, having bars with owners from various countries willing to participate in watching the games just as much as their patrons.