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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Dubai's French fans celebrate World Cup victory

Thousands flock to the Dubai Dome to watch final between France and Croatia

Fans celebrate after France wins the World Cup final match against Croatia at The Dome in Dubai Sports City. Pawan Singh / The National
Fans celebrate after France wins the World Cup final match against Croatia at The Dome in Dubai Sports City. Pawan Singh / The National

Thousands of football fans turned up to watch the World Cup Final at The Dome in Dubai Sports City, but it was French voices that turned the air bleu to celebrate winning the sport’s biggest prize.

Both teams were well represented on the night and there was more than one occasion when it felt like the sheer noise and atmosphere would raise the roof.

In the end, though France’s class won out to break Croatian hearts, it did not stop the crowd from enjoying every minute of the game.

When the final whistle was blown, French fans draped in flags were dancing in the aisles, hugging each other and punching the air in delight as they celebrated their country’s second World Cup success.

Frenchman Laurent Achkar was visibly tense at half-time, despite the fact his side were enjoying a 2-1 lead – thanks to Antoine Greizmann’s penalty.

“It is so tense right now and it is not easy to watch at all,” Mr Achkar said.

“I can’t sit through my team losing another final again this year,” he said, referring to his hometown Marseille’s defeat in the Europa League final in May.

Shashank Ram, from India, was supporting Croatia along with his compatriot Adithi Pradeep.

“We have been under pressure the first half but I am confident we can play better in the second half because we have the better players,” he said.

Fans at The Dome in Dubai Sports Citycelebrate France winning the World Cup. Pawan Singh / The National
Fans at The Dome in Dubai Sports Citycelebrate France winning the World Cup. Pawan Singh / The National

Zorro Ghura might be from the UK but that did not stop him from adorning blue-and-red face paint in support of France. But there was a good reason for his stance.

“My girlfriend is from France and I know which way my bread is buttered!” he said.

With the score delicately balanced at 2-1 it looked like the game could go either way, France’s narrow lead certainly did not stop the Croatian supporters from roaring their team on.

However, when Paul Pogba put France 3-1 up, it looked like it was done and dusted.

Alex Carrasco, another French fan, predicted the score would stay 3-1. He had barely finished the sentence when Kylian Mbappe made it 4-1.

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French fans let off klaxons in support of their team. Croatia grabbed a second goal to make it 4-2 moments later which led to a tense mood in the Dubai Dome.

Eugene Maia, from South Africa, was able to just sit back and enjoy the football but said his Macedonian wife was cheering on Croatia.

Young Tia Gautam was wearing a French shirt and was outnumbered by her friends and family, who were all wearing Croatian jerseys. She had the last laugh thoughand howls of joy echoed throughout the dome.

“All I can say is that I am just so happy right now,” said Aziza Ghezal, a French national living in the UAE.

For Croatian Dora Peric, the result was a “sad end to a wonderful tournament”.

“This tournament brought the country together,” she said. “We are all very proud of the Croatian boys. They are absolute legends.”

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