French and Belgian fans meet in Dublin for World Cup showdown

Hundreds of soccer fans, including ambassadors, gather in Dtwo for semi-final clash

French fans in Dtwo nightclub watch their World Cup semi-final  against Belgium. Photograph: Jack Power

French fans in Dtwo nightclub watch their World Cup semi-final against Belgium. Photograph: Jack Power

 

Hundreds of French and Belgian soccer fans crowded into Dtwo nightclub on Harcourt Street, in Dublin city centre, to watch their teams face off in the first World Cup semi-final on Tuesday. The evening fell in favour of the French revellers, who ended up celebrating a 1-0 victory and a place in the tournament’s final.

French fans outnumbered the Belgian supporters, something which was evident in the frenzied cheers of “Allez les bleus” that drowned out most other noise every time France threatened the Belgian goal.

It wasn’t long after Samuel Umtiti’s early second-half header put the French side into the lead before the fans were belting out La Marseillaise at full volume.

Manon Gatellier has lived in Ireland for four years, and works for the networking site LinkedIn. Kitted out in a white dress with a French flag sash, as well as a red rooster hat, she said following the World Cup in Dublin was “fantastic”.

She said her outfit was styled after the famous French painting Liberty Leading the People, by Eugène Delacroix, which depicts a heroine in a white dress carrying the French flag, amid a battle scene. The painting, commemorating the French Revolution, hangs in the Louvre.

The red rooster hat – somewhat less poetically – represented the French soccer team’s mascot.

“It’s amazing, it’s really good, it’s the third time I’m going to Dtwo to watch the games,” she said. “France and Belgium have a long history in common, as [with] most neighbours they sometimes don’t like each other, but it’s mostly fun,” she said.

Max Caporali, from Marseille, said he had watched all of the French games in various Dublin bars over the tournament.

“The atmosphere is very good. I did a lot of bars, but Dtwo is a very good atmosphere. Everybody is in [here], with the Belgian guys too, it’s good fun,” he said.

Lost in translation

Speaking at half-time, when the teams were still level, Joris Korbee, from Limburg, Belgium, said he was hopeful his team would make it to the final, but added that he was not trying to buy a ticket to it just yet.

The multilingualism of the Belgian fans confused the contingent of French fans at one point, he said. A chant in French from the Belgian fans of “nous ensemble”, which translates to “all together” in English, raised some eyebrows. “All the French were like, ‘We suddenly are friends now, what?’”, Korbee laughed.

The Belgian fans kept their composure after France took the lead, but as the second-half wore on were increasingly frustrated, as their star men Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne found little joy while looking for an equalising goal.

The French and Belgian ambassadors to Ireland were also in Dtwo, watching the match together over a pint.

Speaking about how diplomatic relations were holding up following the first goal, French ambassador Stéphane Crouzat said: “I think whatever happens we’ll survive this terrible, terrible time, the tension is unbearable . . . Thank goodness we’re not just colleagues, but friends.”

Ever the diplomat, Mr Crouzat said the “good thing about this match is a French-speaking country will win”.

His Belgian counterpart, Pierre-Emmanuel De Bauw, added that “another certainty is a European country will win the World Cup”.

England and Croatia face off in the second semi-final on Wednesday, ahead of the final on Sunday.