Days before the 2018 FIFA World Cup ends, a record number of viewers across the country are gearing up for Sunday’s final match between Croatia and France. From open-air screenings to pubs and restaurants throwing open their doors for the final and friends organising private screenings, plans are in place for a long Sunday night.
Suneet Kumbhat, the founder of event management company, Kasa Kai Mumbai, said they have sold 1,000 tickets for their screening at JioGarden in Bandra Kurla Complex, and he expects a turnout of between 3,000 and 5,000 people. Having hosted 300-odd screenings of sporting events — from Formula 1 races to cricket matches — in the last year, Kasa Kai Mumbai also screens football matches.
For Sunday’s screening that will start in the evening and extend to the early hours of Monday, waterproof equipment and sound technology will be put in place for the open-air event in case it rains. “In fact, I think with the city in the grip of football fever, people will have a lot of fun cheering and celebrating in the rain if it does come to that,” said Kumbhat. Easily one of the largest final screenings in town, organisers have put together games at an artificial football turf at the venue and a live music gig to keep the attendees occupied before the kick-off at 8.30 pm.
Kasa Kai Mumbai had also screened the final of the UEFA Champions League between Real Madrid and Liverpool in May, which was attended by 3,400 people. They are expecting almost double the crowd for the Sunday night screenings, held at multiple venues across the city apart from BKC. “Like with most tournaments, around 80 to 90 per cent of our sales happen in the last three days. During this World Cup, lots of people would come for the first few matches. The crowd then lessened mid-tournament and now, in the last few days, the response has been overwhelming. I think this is because the match is taking place at prime-time, at 8.30 pm on a Sunday, which is neither too late nor too early. People will have time after the match to celebrate further without it getting too late,” said Kumbhat. Kasa Kai Mumbai is selling early-bird passes at Rs 499 each and regular passes at Rs 799 each, including food and drinks.
In Thane, Ashish Raichandani is hopeful that his 40-seater restaurant Naka on Ghodbunder Road will be booked out on Sunday night. Naka has open-air seating, known as “eatery lawn” for which a temporary 20-feet high shed has been erected to shelter a projector and sound equipment. “The response for the World Cup has been amazing. We have been sold out for every match so far. I think it is because we have artistes performing right before the matches. So, people who come for the music stay for the matches too,” Raichandani said.
But not everyone plans to head out to watch the finals. Many are opting to watch the game from the comfort of their own homes. College student and football enthusiast Devanshi Iyer (20) said: “My friends, five- ten of us, are going to screen the match in one of our homes in Andheri. We did this for the last World Cup as well. But we were younger then and it was tougher to get together for late-night matches.”