More than 250 diehard fans in Lier, where Bar 't Kafaat and café New Bananas also installed a large screen outside.

Just under eight hundred fans in a place where no expense has been spared for a football party for three thousand people. And yet Alain Geuns, organizer of the World Cup village in the Waagnatie in Antwerp, is reasonably satisfied. “To make it cozier, we made the space a little smaller on Wednesday evening. But of course the fans got a full show, with a giant screen, special effects and DJs before and after the match. Four hundred tickets have currently been sold for the match against Morocco, I expect that will easily be a thousand or more. And if the Red Devils get further, the public will follow. This production is also covered by the dance parties that we organize on Friday and Saturday in the Waagnatie.”

In open air

In Antwerp, the cafes were quite full. Bar Brul, for example, is a neighborhood café in Borgerhout that, due to the commotion about human rights and working conditions in Qatar, only broadcasts the matches of the Red Devils on screen. And donate part of the proceeds to Amnesty International. “The Red Devils in a café, that works. Bar Brul was completely full and there was a great atmosphere,” says manager Bertrand Lekeux. “Paying to see a match is a barrier. But if it’s free, people will come.”

It was also quite busy in other Antwerp cafes such as Den Bengel, de Christoffel or De Klamper, but all hope is mainly based on the matches against Morocco and Croatia. “People of all nationalities come to my café, but on Wednesday everyone was Belgian,” says Tony van De Klamper in Antwerp. “It was a busy evening, but for Sunday I expect a packed café.”

More than 250 diehard fans in Lier, where Bar ‘t Kafaat and café New Bananas also installed a large screen outside. © RR

Bar ‘t Kafaat, a football café in Lier, was packed on Wednesday evening. “No big screens on the market this time, but on the street. With two hours before the match DJs to welcome the crowd”, says Sander De Swert. “We work together with café New Bananas for this. More than 250 people watched the match in the open air. Back to the roots, right in front of our door and cozy in the pub. And that works.”

Michaël Van Beersel also saw more than two hundred fans in the Boesjkammeree in Mechelen in the match against the Canadians. “We installed two screens in the café and an extra screen on the terrace and all tables were full there too. Reservations are coming in well for Sunday, but I’m afraid it won’t be the golden era of the World Cup in 2014, when there was no Fan Park in the Nekkerhal yet.

Packed

For Brent Van Rooy of Bar Bier in Herentals, some more people can show up. “The café was quite full, but not packed,” he says. “Whatever you want, it’s winter. That’s why I don’t put a screen outside. On Sunday I expect a crowded café and I also hope that they play better, otherwise people will drop out.”

© BELGA

Jef Engelen of Druyts sports center on the market in Herentals had gathered extra staff on Wednesday. “Fortunately, because I still had about a hundred fans over. I had placed an extra screen in the billiard room. Fortunately, because it was also full.”

The same in De Zwarte Ruiter in Turnhout, but for manager Dries Verdick it can be a bit more. “It was cosy, the atmosphere was good, but the Madelon on the first floor still had room for thirty people. It’s winter, it’s a crisis and especially the negative coverage about Qatar is still keeping people at home. But if the Red Devils switch up a level, that can quickly change. We are ready, because we have another screen on our terrace.”

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