World Cup Fever

Roy Keane in action against Egor Titov of Russia in February, 2002.

By Irish America Staff
June / July 2002

In our dreams we take out Spain, beat England on penalties and Jason McAteer scores the winning goal against Brazil in the World Cup Final.

The Carlsberg beer ad which is running in Ireland at the moment may only be wishful thinking, but as the nation gears up for the greatest sporting occasion of the year, there is growing optimism that Mick McCarthy and the lads will do us proud over the next few weeks.

With Ireland’s captain fantastic Roy Keane back at the helm, it looks like anything is possible. Keane had been out with injuries but it now seems certain that he will have recovered in time for the big event.

Football fever has hit Ireland in recent weeks. Bank loans are in, savings have been raided, relatives and friends have been tapped as the most desperate of Irish soccer fans try to make their way to the World Cup, which kicks off in Japan on May 31.

But unlike the good old days when Jack’s Army traveled en masse to every venue where Ireland played, only the most dedicated and resourceful will be able to witness the boys in green in action in Japan and Korea.

A three-match package with a travel agent in Ireland starts at Euro 4,300. Japan is probably the most expensive country in the world. A taxi from the airport into Tokyo will cost Euro 260.

But fans have been finding ways to keep costs down. A three-course meal at a top Tokyo hotel will cost up to €1000 but you can live on Big Mac’s at €3 a go. For the homesick, a pint of Guinness during happy hour in one of the country’s twenty or so Irish bars, will cost just €7.

And you can sleep in a capsule for €33 or for €6.55 for three hours, which should be sufficient for the hardier supporters.

For those who do not make it to Japan and Korea, the World Cup is in danger of becoming something of a dry affair.

Bar staff are threatening to go on strike during the tournament.

The Mandate trade union, which represents over 3,000 Dublin bar staff, is to ballot its members on industrial action after pub owners de-recognized the union in negotiations about pay and conditions.

For the fans it’s a case of déjà vu. The last major bartenders’ strike was during the 1994 World Cup in the States.

But even if industrial unrest doesn’t scupper the Irish supporters celebrations, the time difference will.

Ireland kicks off on June 1 against Cameroon at an unsociable 7:30 a.m. ♦

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