World Cup: 16 big fans from all walks of life

A politician, business leaders, children, footballers, celebrities and national athletes. They are as varied as they come but are common in their passion for football.

And these 16 personalities have joined The Straits Times for the month-long whirlwind that is the World Cup by sharing their joy and angst from following their favourite teams battling it out in Brazil.

Take radio deejay Jamie Yeo, for example.

The 37-year-old, who will also be hosting World Cup shows on SingTel's mio TV and upload related posts on her Instagram account, is rooting for Portugal.

She said: "Portugal are not ranked fourth in the world for nothing and I think they can get to the quarter-finals at least.

"Their key player will, of course, be Cristiano Ronaldo - and not just because he looks great in the buff on a magazine cover! But one player does not a team make and Portugal are dark horses as they have other pedigree players like Nani and Pepe."

Joining her on ST's panel are Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck (Brazil), sports presenter and former radio deejay Mark Richmond (Switzerland) plus a host of former and current national footballers, national athletes, school children and business leaders.

Giving the panel the voice of youth will be the intrepid primary school boys Nadir Haziq (Belgium), Jovan Koh (Croatia) and Christopher David (Ivory Coast), who won the McDonald's Player Escort Contest, jointly organised by ST under the Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) programme, the newspaper's ongoing effort to reach out to readers and the community.

They will walk out onto the Maracana Stadium pitch in Rio de Janeiro before the 5pm kick-off on June 28 (4am, June 29, Singapore time), for a round-of-16 match between the Group C winners and Group D runners-up.

For 46-year-old Mr Teo, who has supported Brazil since the age of four, it is a matter of cheering for a team who enchanted him in his childhood.

He said: "The Brazil team this year are my favourites but they don't play pure samba football.

"They are more balanced now and, combined with the passionate home crowd, it is a winning formula."

For Giuseppe Scaccianoce, 50, he is driven by patriotism to his native Italy, who are four-time world champions.

The Catania native, the general manager of engineering company Meridionale Impianti, said: "The real question is - Who will be the other finalists?

"Italy is a team that delivers all the time in big tournaments like the World Cup."

Introducing the ST World Cup panel

1 Radio deejay and host Jamie Yeo (supporting Portugal)

2 Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck (Brazil)

3 Sports presenter and former radio deejay Mark Richmond (Switzerland)

4 Former national footballer Lim Tong Hai (Germany)

5 Former national footballer S. Subramani (South Korea)

6 Former national footballer Aleksandar Duric (Bosnia)

7 National goalkeeper Hassan Sunny (France)

8 SEA Games rowing gold medallist Saiyidah Aishah (Spain)

9 SEA Games judo gold medallist Ho Han Boon (Japan)

10 SingPost CEO Dr Wolfgang Baier (Argentina)

11 Engineering company Meridionale Impianti general manager Giuseppe Scaccianoce (Italy)

12 Aviva Singapore chief executive Nishit Majmudar (England)

13 Ornamental fish seller Qian Hu Corporation executive chairman and managing director Kenny Yap (Holland)

Winners of McDonald's Player Escort Contest:

14 Nadir Haziq (Belgium)

15 Jovan Koh (Croatia)

16 Christopher David (Ivory Coast)

This article was first published on June 12, 2014.
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