Football fans have enjoyed this year's championship with a number of tied matches, dramatic turns and unexpected results. Although we cannot really talk about a real football fever in Slovenia due to the absence of our national team from the championship, the World Cup is always an event that is hard to avoid and that reaches most people one way or another.
On the first quarter-final day, we checked the atmosphere in the bars near the Ljubljanica River – all without exception show football matches. We were interested for which national team Slovenian football fans cheer but also looking for foreign visitors to comment the achievements of their national teams.
Conveniently, we first encountered a group of German-speaking tourists. A great opportunity to comment on one of the biggest disappointments of the World Cup – a catastrophic performance and a quick goodbye for the current world champions. When asked about how they experienced the performances of their team, one of them laughed: "It's very unfortunate that they did not qualify for the championship. But we come from Austria, not Germany." We had no other choice but to believe him, although this could be a convenient excuse of a German denying his nationality due to disappointment. The group responded to our question about who deserves this year's title the most fairly uniformly – the Cup should be raised by the English, who have been waiting for it for more than 50 years.
The French are certain they're going to the end
While walking past crowded bars near the Ljubljanica during the match between France and Uruguay, we noticed that the match was being watched closely only by a small number of visitors, while most only paid attention to the television screen during interruptions or when more engaged spectators made loud exclamations. The excited atmosphere was fuelled by a group of French tourists, who cheered for their team, applauded at every good move of their football players, and ultimately celebrated with drinks and a team anthem.
We challenged one of them if after twenty empty-handed years, the time has come for France again. More than thrilled, he explained that with their national team one can never know before the start of the championship what to expect: "In 1998, we were world champions, at the next world championship we were eliminated during the group stage, in 2006 we came to the finals, and in 2010 we dropped out again in the group stage. This year it's a good championship for us again; this year we are going to the end! "
"Ours" missing for the right atmosphere
Many Belgians, who already wandered around the Ljubljana city centre in the afternoon to look for the best place to watch the evening match against Brazil, certainly would not agree with the last part of the Frenchman's statement.
We asked one of the waiters about how the world championship affects the occupancy of bars. "Due to afternoon matches we sometimes have a bit more customers – depends on who is playing - and during evenings in the summer, bars are more or less always full. The atmosphere is created mainly by individual groups of tourists who come to see the match of their home teams. Last year it was the European basketball championship ... that was another story, that was crazy," he explained and said that also for the football championship, it would be completely different if the Slovenian national team participated, too. "Performances of the national team create that true cheering atmosphere," he added. We also asked him for which other national team he cheered the most: "I wanted Argentina to become the world champion. Now that they were out, I would like to see the Croats win."