Portugal’s first Qatar World Cup match fuelled a maelstrom of emotions with Goans watching the match live in Qatar, living the dream; while football fans in Goa are still unenthused about the idea of sharing public spaces to view the matches.
“I do not know how to say what I felt. Being in the world-class temperature-controlled stadium 974 to watch a World Cup match, and that too of Portugal, was unbelievable. The stadium name 974 is of significance because it is the dialling code of Qatar, and it is the exact number of shipping containers used in the construction, part of a sustainable project of the country,” stated Lavoisier Fernandes from Miramar, Goa, who flew from the UK to Qatar to join the party.
“Being at a World Cup is a different experience. Everything is systematic outside the stadium, and it turns into a big carnival inside with people from different countries enjoying in their own way,” Lavoisier told GT Digital in an exclusive chat.
As Portugal stumbled on their way to victory against Ghana, most Goans preferred to watch the countries’ first match within the confines of their homes with BPS being the only club in South Goa that managed to attract people.
“It was a nice crowd. I think the pictures tell it all. It was the first day and, therefore, not much can be said in terms of crowd enthusiasm, but the response was good,” stated Lenny Rosario, one of the event organisers at BPS.
“We charge a token amount of Rs 50 for non-members, and the same can be swapped for a small beer or soft drinks at the bar. The money earned during the World Cup is put back into sports in some form or the other,” disclosed Lenny.
If BPS had people turning up in the South, the response was lukewarm in North Goa. The two once-popular clubs – Clube Nacional and Clube Vasco da Gama – were not even decked up.
“We had planned to create a World Cup atmosphere, but unfortunately, our sponsor backed out at the last minute, and so we decided to let it go this season.
We have two television sets in the bar, and people would have watched the matches on them,” explained Christopher Menezes, secretary of Clube Vasco da Gama. “I went to a friend’s house to watch the match,” he added.
“I watched the match at home, but I was surprised that I was not called up by anyone to come and watch the match together with them. I think the spirit of the past is changing, or something strange is happening, because even the response to the free IFFI screenings in South Goa is low,” argues Cedric da Costa from South Goa.
“I am unable to understand why many are opting to watch the matches on big screens at home with friends. The concept of enjoying with a crowd is disappearing, and I still don’t know why,” admitted Cedric.
“The match never rose to great heights, but I am happy that Portugal managed to win. I watched the match at home and will most probably watch all at home as I find public viewing unappetising. First, there are guys who drink too much and could be dangerous, and then there is the noise that distracts me,” admitted 73-year-old former football commentator Lume Pereira.
“The enthusiasm of watching the Portugal game live has switched off this time. Apart from the element of cost, I think many people are watching the games at home with family or friends,” admits Cecil Franco from Duler, Mapusa.
“I do not know if we are still suffering from the aftereffects of the lockdown as I find many people reluctant to come out now. I myself think twice before going out, and honestly, I did not watch the Portugal match as I fell asleep,” confessed Cecil.
“My wife, my son and I went for the match. There was much of a crowd for the match, but it was still possible to identify the Portuguese from the rest. We had a ball,” wrote Marcos dos Santos from Caranzalem who flew to Qatar from Portugal where he was holidaying with his wife.
“Loads of Goan Portuguese fans with horns and musical instruments, faces painted with the Portuguese flag along with a large number of Keralites supporting Portugal were part of the 43,000 in the stadium,” concluded Lavoisier.