I miss all the footie fans, laments eatery owner

JOHOR BARU: The Euro 2020 and 2021 Copa America tournaments are underway but what Sahul Hamid Yaacob (pic) misses most is seeing football fans gathering at his restaurant.

The 46-year-old, who has been in the food and beverage industry for more than 15 years, said the pandemic and movement control order had forced fans to watch matches at home.

“I miss them, ” he said, noting that his restaurant has had to comply with the government’s standard operating procedure, which includes shorter operating hours and not allowing customers to dine in.

Sahul Hamid said his restaurant would usually be filled with die-hard fans, especially during international football tournaments such as the Euro and Fifa World Cup or even matches involving the Malaysian national team.

He added that he would organise quizzes and lucky draws to keep fans entertained while waiting for the matches to kick off during the wee hours.

“Before Covid-19 hit, the last international football tournament was the 2018 Fifa World Cup and it was a busy time for us.

“My restaurant was packed, while some fans even sat inside their cars just to watch the matches through the giant screen that we have, ” he said.

Sahul Hamid said he was hopeful things would be better next year.

He noted that the next World Cup would be held in 2022 and with many Malaysians being vaccinated, he was confident fans would return to Indian-Muslim restaurants like his.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association secretary Hussein Ibrahim said there were about 180 Indian-Muslim restaurants in the state.

“Football fans preferred coming to our restaurants because they could sit with their friends to watch ‘The Beautiful Game’.

“It is the lively experience they enjoyed, which is similar to watching a live game at the stadium but they would be able to order food such as roti canai and drinks, ” he added.

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