SINGAPORE - With two matches to go before the final whistle, football fans are likely to be busy scouting for venues to send off the quadrennial World Cup in style.
There are options aplenty for those watching the third-place play-off between Brazil and the Netherlands at 4am on Sunday Singapore time, and the final clash between Germany and Argentina at 3am on Monday.
Better yet, you do not have to pay a cent at many of these places.
Besides the usual sports-screening haunts such as bars, supporters can also head to Hong Lim Park, 38 McDonald's outlets, four Safra clubs and 58 community centres and clubs (CCs), where they can enjoy the game without having to buy food or drinks.
Since Brazil played Croatia in the opening match in Sao Paulo on June 12, many fans have ventured out to catch the Fifa World Cup instead of staying at home.
According to People's Association, more than 510,000 people have flocked to its community centres and clubs for a piece of football action. This is a jump from the more than 180,000 people who caught the 2010 World Cup screenings at 16 CCs.
To watch all the matches at home, viewers had to pay $112.35 for a subscription package from SingTel, although MediaCorp aired the opening and semi- final matches for free on okto channel and will show the final match as well.
Still, some viewers prefer to watch the games outside.
Mr Jasveer Singh, 51, who is self- employed, has been at every match screening in Hong Lim Park with his homemaker wife Ozzie Singh, 48. "Nothing beats the big screen," he explains. The couple also went to Hong Lim Park to watch the World Cup in 2010. Besides the free screenings, fringe activities also add to the fun. For example, viewers can play table football or take part in half-time quizzes at some of the CCs, or join lucky draws and contests at Hong Lim Park to win World Cup souvenirs such as an official match ball.
Interest group leader Samuel Lim, 31, who is volunteering in the People's Association team that organises the Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green CC's screenings at Hong Lim Park, says: "We went the extra mile with the prizes so people can take home an authentic piece of this once-in- four-years event."
When it comes to catching the beautiful game, it is the more the merrier.
Mr Fadhil Alsagoff, 22, an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore, watched the match between France and Germany last Saturday with his younger brother and cousin at Pasir Ris Elias Community Club, which is a five-minute walk from his home. "It's a lot more fun to shout and laugh when you're doing it with other people," says Mr Fadhil, who will head out again to watch the final on Monday.
"I'm excited to watch the amazing display of football between two of the world's best teams and to catch history in the making." firstname.lastname@example.org
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