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June 24, 2017

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Taipei soccer fans burn midnight oil to cheer for Brazil World Cup Final

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Excited soccer fans gathered in and around downtown Taipei before 3 a.m. Monday, overcoming the heat and the late hour to cheer for their team of preference as Germany went up against Argentina in the World Cup Final.

Based on cable TV rating figures of previous matches, local media estimated that around 600,000 people in Taiwan watched the final yesterday.

At the Xinyi shopping mall area, home to many sports restaurants and bars, fans rooted even as they sat patiently during the intense showdown and watched with excitement — or dismay — as Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time to win the title.

"That score was too quick for me to absorb," said a saddened Lin Shih-chieh, a 20-year-old who was hoping the cup would go to Argentina.

While his team was not so fortunate, Lin said with sleep in his eyes that he and his friends were lucky to have found seats in the McDonald's where they watched the game with some 80 fans. Lin's group had run around Taipei starting at midnight to find a spot they could sit down for the match.

"I have never watched soccer with crowds. It's very different," said Liu Jung-yen, who along with 30 coworkers was busy taking photos as they celebrated inside a TGI Fridays.

With a little German flag painted on her cheek, the 24-year-old said she enjoyed the vibe of watching crowds burst into cheers or jeers when either team got close to making a shot.

"We had all our 300 seats booked for today three weeks ago," said restaurant manager Rossie Kuo, pointing at the patio with extra seats, two big screens set up especially for the event and electric fans.

She added that another branch even got customer asking if they could sit on the stairs to watch after finding out all the seats were booked.

But many fans were more foresighted and drafted plans for the final match early, saying burning the midnight oil for the World Cup half a planet away has become a part of their lives over the past month.

"I have adapted to Brazil time since the quarter finals," said 34-year-old fan Chiang Feng-ju.

Joining some 100 anxious fans at BLT Burger, Chiang said he has watched four games at the restaurant.

There was no lack of enthusiasm at the nearby Brass Monkey, a pub and restaurant, where store representative Wayne Ku said its 100 seats were sold out last Monday.

World Cup fever has been good for business at many restaurants providing live-broadcast and extended hour service, with most of them reporting a 20 to 40 percent increase in sales.

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