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Bars kick into high gear for soccer gala

(China Daily)

10:54, June 09, 2012

Images representing the European Championship adorn the wall of a noodle shop in Beijing on Friday night. (Photo: China Daily/Wang jing)

BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) -- A sultry Friday night seems a perfect time for soccer fans to relax in a bar and watch the European Championship.

At Salitun's Boys and Girls Bar, waiter Fu Xiaoliang said people passing by have been asking whether they will broadcast the game live.

Many of the other establishments along Beijing's most dynamic bar street have set up huge projection screens and made room for additional seats.

At Furen Bar in Houhai, another bar area in Beijing, three projection screens have been set up inside and one outside. The TVs were already on the China Central Television sports channel, where preliminary reports of the games were setting the atmosphere. The 2 am closing time has been pushed back, and wine discounts and free fruits and snacks will be offered during the nearly month-long tournament that starts on Saturday, Beijing time.

Bar owners are obviously hoping to attract more soccer fans. Waiter Xiao Chen at Sanlitun's No 60 Pizza expects to triple their normal daily sales on Friday night.

Guo Jinchao at Furen doesn't set much store in opening day, since he believes the number of spectators will depend heavily on "whether strong and famous teams are playing". He thinks the real rush will come after the quarterfinals. During previous international tournaments such as the World Cup, Guo said, seats for games from the quarterfinals onward would usually be booked days in advance.

During the week, the time difference with Europe might pose a problem as all the games kick off at midnight or later, Beijing time.

But hardcore fans will find ways to tackle the problem.

According to Wang Wen, president of the Beijing Soccer Fans Association, some people will take their annual leave or ask for some days off during international soccer tournaments like the World Cup and the European Championship. Others may choose to change their routines, for example, going to bed around 8 pm, getting up to watch games around 3 am and preparing for work after the game.

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