Saturday , July 13 2024

EURO2024 fills bars in HCMC

Known as soccer or football around the world, in Việt Nam we call it “bóng đá” and EURO 2024 is proving to be a spectacular watch on the sporting calendar for locals and expats across the country.

by Ray Riches *

It’s known as soccer or football around the world and in Việt Nam we call it bóng đá and EURO 2024 is at the top of sporting calendar for locals and expats across the country.

One of the best things about living in HCMC is its window to the world. With a high number of expats living across the city, venues known for doing what we enjoy the most, watching sport, are readily available at any time of the day or night.

EURO 2024, is being played in Germany across June and July. Qualifying teams arrived in the country early June with the first matches starting on July 15 with a strong performance by Germany over Scotland.

With more than two weeks gone, the groups are beginning to show their top performers and the local venues in Saigon have chosen their team to support.

Fans watching the start of the game at InSaiGong Bar. — VNS Photo Jaime Tuckwell

EURO 2024 is held every four years. A total of 55 countries are eligible to enter the competition with 24 of the top teams making it into the cup tournament. It was first contested in France in 1960 with the Soviet Union beating Yugoslavia to be the first champions.

The last EURO Championship was held in 2020 with Italy coming away as victors and they have a vocal and loyal following this year with a number of bars holding special events for Italian expats and tourists across HCMC.

One such venue, but supporting England, is In SaiGong Bar in HCMC. Known as the place for all English Football supporters, the bar will fill to capacity whenever England are playing.

And the time difference doesn’t seems to dampen the passion of the expat supporters. The final game of the day can start as late as 2am and finish as the sun rises across the city. Supporters will stand shoulder to shoulder and cheer on their English team until the final whistle is blown.

Other bars are also gathering ardent supporters to follow their teams. France, Spain and Italy are just a few of the key teams that are set to make the final rounds, albeit Italy have been defeated. Of course, there is no better way to support your country than to be with your friends and countrymen.

In the popular tourist centre of Bùi Viện, bars are remaining open to support the many European expats and tourists who are all living with the dream of seeing their team take the converted cup home in 2024.

Speaking to English supporters at InSaiGong Bar, they noted they have had a good pool draw with Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia. Confidence is high in the bar that English will easily make it into the last 16, to which they have.

Looking less confident, they admit, is when they face the might of the top sides like Germany and France and their winning streak may come to an end. In addition there are a few sides that may surprise the big names later in the competition.

It is just not expats filling the bars in HCMC to watch this global spectacle. Many Vietnamese also join in the action by having a favourite team and joining in the celebrations at these venues.

And this is where my happiness comes to light. HCMC is a truly international window. Over the past decade is has continued to grow and is now a well renowned global city.

English fans celebrate after an England victory at InSaiGong Bar. VNS Photo Jaime Tuckwell

Events, like EURO 2024, bring local Vietnamese soccer fans out of the suburbs and into the districts where tourists and expats socialise to cheer together.

EURO 2024 is not just about supporting your team. Venues across the city are inviting lovers of football to join in the pleasure of watching the worlds best players take of this special event that only happens once every four years.

Indeed, HCMC now embraces these global sporting events like never before. This is evident from the late night cheers and busy streets of District one in HCMC, the city is alive with football fever and it will only end when one team hold the cup up high.

But the final of EURO 2024 will not see the end of festivities in bars across HCMC. Sporting events including Wimbledon, The Olympics and the Tour De France are set to light up the late night hours over the next few months with Wimbledon commencing this week.

HCMC is quickly becoming a dream city for sports fans, make sure you get out and experience some live sport when you next visit. VNS

* Ray lives in HCMC and works as a teacher and freelancer. Apart from teaching he is a keen runner and bicycle adventure rider. He has visited many parts of the country by bicycle and loves the smaller parts of this beautiful country. After ten years in Việt Nam, Ray has a love and passion for the smaller things and enjoys sharing his experiences with people all over the world.

Fans watch football at the Rabbithole Bar in HCM City. VNS Photo Marcus Apacius

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