Get a kick out of live matches

Get a kick out of live matches
Soccer fans (from far left, seated) Vince Teo, Emily Koh, Tan Yu Ming, Alvin Soh and Nur Hisyam (standing) celebrate a Spain victory after watching a live match during the 2010 World Cup.

SINGAPORE - Football fever is upon us - so where do you catch the Fifa World Cup if you baulk at shelling out more than $100 to subscribe to cable broadcast?

More than 10 bars, 40 community centres and 39 McDonald's outlets will screen World Cup matches this year. The international tournament kicked off at 4am this morning with a match between hosts Brazil and Croatia. Sixty-three more games will be played, culminating in the final on Sunday, July 13.

About 250,000 people are expected to attend World Cup screenings at community centres alone, which experienced packed halls during their screenings of the last World Cup in 2010.

Grassroots organisations have also arranged raffles, half-time quizzes, flea markets and photo booths to further entertain dedicated fans during the games.

One football fan who is eschewing watching matches from home for a communal screening is Mr Nicholas Tan.

The advertising account manager and England supporter says the timing of the games does not justify the cost he would have to pay to watch the games at home.

There is an 11-hour time difference between Singapore and Brazil in South America, and the majority of World Cup games will air at midnight, 3, 4 and 6am Singapore time.

Pay-TV operator SingTel announced in March that fans will have to pay $112 including GST to watch all 64 matches - more than double what Malaysians will pay (RM100 or S$38.60) and about five times more than Hong Kong residents (HK$128 or S$21).

Some countries in the region, such as Indonesia and Thailand, are broadcasting the games on TV for free.

"I still have to work and because of the hours the games are being played, I will probably watch 50 per cent at best," says Mr Tan, 34.

Instead, he plans to watch selected games, such as Spain vs Netherlands (tomorrow at 3am) or England vs Italy (Sunday at 6am), with his wife at a community centre near his home in Bukit Panjang, or with friends at a bar in St James Power Station.

The festive and communal atmosphere at these large screenings is a priority for football fans such as Germany supporter Justin Khiang, 21.

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