The game goes on for fans


Collective goal: Faiz Subri, 34, watching the Euro2020 match with his friends through WhatsApp video call at his home in Shah Alam. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

PETALING JAYA: As the 2020 European Championship kicked off early Saturday morning (Malaysian time), the festive feel of the tournament was somewhat missing.

As Malaysia is under lockdown, the usual gatherings at mamak restaurants and private residences have to be put on hold.

For public relations consultant Logan Kumar, 31, this Euro championship – delayed by a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic – is very different from previous football tournaments which he would watch with two of his childhood friends at any one of their houses.

This time around, they are experimenting with watching the game “together” via Google Meet.

“As fans we have different viewpoints and banter, especially when watching games where we support opposing teams,” said the England fan.

They started with the opening Italy vs Turkey game that the former won 3-0, but found out that the games were not synchronised.

So, when Italy scored, one of them celebrated earlier, and spoiling the game for the other two.

“It was like watching it together but not quite.

“For those who have better broadcast bandwidth, they will have to keep quiet for the others,” he said, adding that they might invite more people to their sessions for the coming games.

Besides the Euros, World Cup qualifying matches are also taking place all over the world with Malaysia currently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where they have played two games.

The 2020 Copa America tournament will also begin in Brazil on Monday.

Mohd Hazwan Mokhtar, 31, is a big fan of Malaysia and Selangor, but he misses the live atmosphere that can’t be replicated by television.The delivery driver from Shah Alam also watches other football tournaments with his friends at the mamak restaurant.

“The atmosphere is totally different. The difference is we can’t shout as loud as we want at home. I miss the camaraderie with other football fans,” he said.

For Albert Tan, 40, football tournaments are a chance to meet up with his friends that he rarely meets face to face.

“Yes, we are in touch almost daily through WhatsApp but there is nothing like screaming together or even laughing at one of our friends when their team concedes a goal.

“That’s the fun of watching together. I guess, for now we can only keep the banter to our WhatsApp group,” he said.

Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed said many eateries missed the “stadium-like” atmosphere, especially during the big games and tournaments.

The outlet used to show most of the games, but the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year meant these large gatherings could not happen.

“We can only hope that things return to normal soon,” he said.

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