It’s that wonderful time of the quadrennial once again. A reason to drink at outlandish times of the day, a reason to scream at the tiny television inside your grandmother’s house, a reason to tell the old woman on the bus that you “just can’t see past Germany”, maybe even a reason to take out that credit union loan!
Every football fan around the world goes to sleep dreaming of a Ronaldo free kick, a piece of Messi magic, a Salah run to the final, or simply a successful accumulator. Everyone else goes to sleep hoping they don’t wake up until it’s all over. In the words of Eamon Dunphy, “it’s back, baby”. A celebration of the beautiful game, an expression of nationalism and pride, it’s The Fifa World Cup.
This year’s tournament promises to excite in a way which varies from its predecessors. It must be noted that the absence of ubiquities such as Italy and the Netherlands, along with cult favourites including the United States, Ghana and the Republic of Ireland will be keenly felt. However, messrs Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Salah, along with favourable minnows such as Iceland, Costa Rica and Senegal, will undoubtedly provide the moments of genius and stories of triumph so often associated with this competition.
The central appeal of the tournament is that it unites citizens from all around the world, under the banner of common interest. Natives from Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and anywhere in between, come together for a month-long party that is so intense they can only have it every four years. Imagine the Trinity Ball, but less often and with more football. This year, Russia has been tasked with hospitality duties, but where will you, enthusiastic viewers and reluctant tagalongs, take in all of the action?
For those who seek international immersion, look no further than Diceys on Harcourt Street come June 15. Here, the Spanish and Portuguese will undoubtedly be found in support of their home nations in what is the most appetising of the group stage clashes. The same can be said for central venues such as the Grand Social, which boasts an exclusive world cup viewing area, and King Street favourite Sinnotts bar, where the colossal screens and passionate fans will truly enhance your world cup viewing experience.
The Mercantile are also offering a ten euro burger and a pint match day special. If that level of intensity doesn’t appeal to you, any boozer with a television screen is often a safe bet, with The Living Room on Cathal Brugha Street, Weatherspoons in Dun Laoghaire, and the Woolshed Baa and Grill on Parnell Street is always extremely popular.
The World Cup by its very nature is universal in its appeal, and as such enjoying it is not confined to expensive pints while sandwiched between two sweaty beer-bellied men you’d swear were your uncle. The old reliables such as a match day barbecue with your friends or a WhatsApp group remain old and reliable, whereas settling into an evening kick off with a cup of tea in the family home can also not be forgotten as a viable option.
Even if the opening stages of the tournament do capture your imagination, you may be tempted to celebrate the tournament’s conclusion on July 15 by attending a ticketed screening in Leeson Streets Sugar Club. Here you can claim you “always knew they’d win it” with that extra sense of prestige. In terms of settings to avoid, you’d be a fool to stay at home towards these latter stages of the tournament, and the final in particular. Travelling to Russia may also prove to be outside many peoples price range, with tickets fetching as much as €950.
The World Cup may not be for everyone, but it cannot be denied that it catalyses social gatherings, prompts less than intellectual debate, and puts a few extra coffers into the pockets of publicans around the world. Love it or hate it, you’ll ultimately be a part of it, so sit back, relax, and put it all on Portugal.