French expats in UAE will be out in force to support their team when World Cup kicks off in June

Last World Cup, Les Bleus crashed out early, suffering defeats at the hands of Mexico and South Africa.
Anthony Tep, French Football supporter, is looking forward to the start of the World Cup. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National)
Anthony Tep, French Football supporter, is looking forward to the start of the World Cup. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National)

ABU DHABI // French fans will be out in force across the UAE when their team’s World Cup kicks off against Honduras on June 15.

Last World Cup, Les Bleus crashed out early, suffering defeats at the hands of Mexico and South Africa.

“I am a bit scared after what happened four years ago,” said Anthony Tep, a 29-year-old sales manager from Paris who lives in Dubai.

“I am not expecting much from this team – it is still very young and they have a lot to prove and show. I think this World Cup is just a stepping stone before Euro 2016.

Given the uneasy social and economical climate in France, football is a chance to bring people together, said Mr Tep.

“Right now with the economic situation the way it is, everything is going down and for the French the World Cup gives us a bright side this year, its something nice to follow – I think most French people are looking forward to the World Cup.

“In Paris, where I am from, they install big screens everywhere to watch the games and people go out into the streets to celebrate, things can get pretty messy.”

Mr Tep said the French expatriate community will wear their team’s shirts with pride when the games begin.

“Here, the French community is pretty big so I know we will gather in the bars and we are just looking forward to being with our friends and other nationalities – my wife is Mexican so she likes to follow the games as well.

“Of course there is a rivalry with England and Spain – it will be pretty amazing to be here with everyone coming together,” he said.

Unlike Mr Tep, Jerome Quere is quietly confident Les Tricolores will put on a good show.

“I am perhaps a bit more optimistic than a lot of people are but I predict that they will arrive in the semi final,” said Mr Quere, who is 37 and lives in Dubai and works for a sailing manufacturing company.

“The group is not so difficult – they can go into the semis in my opinion.

“I hope that they will have enough time to prepare – they haven’t played too much this year – they will arrive more fresh than other teams,” he said.

Mr Quere said watching the games in the UAE won’t be the same as back in France.

“In France it is very common that people join to watch the football – everyone in the same place – very often in the bars. Here it is a little different though, due to the hour of the games close to midnight it is more difficult to see the games.

“But I will still watch the games for sure. Mainly there are a lot of England fans in Dubai and when I went to a Marina bar in Dubai to watch PSG play Chelsea there were about 90 per cent England fans I think.”

He said he was uncertain how the authorities in Brazil will cope with hosting such a massive tournament when the eyes of the world are on them.

“It is a good question when you look at the television it seems to be more difficult in Brazil due to the economic situation and money spent by Fifa,” said Mr Quere. “There are a lot of poor people there. I am less confident with this country that in previous World Cups.”

ksinclair@thenational.ae

Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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