Night owl football fans in Adelaide ready for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Image courtesy: Daily Times

By David Bucio-Lueza

For DJ Pippo Lamberts, watching Argentina’s football matches live is “like a religion”, even during early hours.

“My heart, my body is in Argentina,” he says.

“I know that 10 or 20 relatives are watching the match there, shouting euphorically.

“I can’t sleep because I know something incredible is occurring there.”

At 3:30 am Adelaide time, Argentina and Germany started rolling the ball at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final match in Brazil.

About 100 fans summoned by Lamberts turned La Boca Bar and Grill Adelaide on North Terrace into an Argentinian embassy.

The crowd, drinking Fernet con Coca (Coca-Cola mixed with Italian spirit, Fernet) and wearing the signature sky-blue shirts and hats, remained standing while watching the game on the big LED screen.

The deafening notes of snare drums—called “redoblantes”—filled the air between cheeky Argentinian chants and jeers at the German players and the referee.

After 90 minutes the game was still scoreless and went to extra time.

The decisive goal of German midfielder Mario Götze muted the fervent crowd in a scenario that resembled the bitter endings of tango songs.

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Image courtesy: FIFA

“For an Argentinian, disappointments in football can bring on depression,” Lamberts says.

“I was almost in a state of coma… it has been one of the worst experiences that I lived through after losing a grand final. I closed my social media accounts and I was in bed for a week.”

Meanwhile, more than 1000 people were celebrating the victory at the German Club on Flinders Street.

German-Australian Dieter Fabig is a radio presenter for the program Football Plus on 5EBI 103.1fm.

Fabig says the security staff at the door did not want to let him in before the match, as the club was completely full.

“They wouldn’t even let me in and I’m the honorary president of the club! Just by chance, the manager came down the stairs, so I called him and said, ‘Can I please come in?’ and he said, ‘Come on’,” Fabig says.

Fabig says that, once inside, the atmosphere was “electric”.

“I thought ‘I’m actually in the stadium’,” Mr Fabig says.

“I thought the German Club was gonna explode. It was just fantastic.”

Lamberts and Fabig were part of the 1.1 million television viewers in Australia who followed the 2014 FIFA World Cup Grand Final match, according to SBS.

In total, the tournament reached an audience of 10.7 million people—almost half the Australian population—despite the early broadcast times of most matches.

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Image courtesy: FIFA

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will start tomorrow, June 15,  at 1 am with the hosts playing Saudi Arabia.

Like previous World Cups, football fans in Adelaide will face the dilemma of juggling commitments and sleep time with the odd kick-off times, which for this World Cup will range from 8pm to 4am.

Passionate fans undeterred from the late-night schedule

The West Adelaide Soccer Club Men’s National Premier League South Australia midfielder, Kosta Mantis, said he finds it hard playing football locally, working full-time and waking in the middle of the night to watch the matches.

Mantis says while the evening fixtures will be perfect for him, he will get up later only for watching “blockbuster” games.

In contrast, the Adelaide University Soccer Club Women’s National Premier League coach, Kosta Jaric, says staying up late during Russia 2018 will not be a problem.

“I think you gotta love it [football] enough to stay up and watch a lot of the games at that time,” Mr Jaric says.

“If you’re actually passionate about watching Australia or whoever it might be, you’ll get up.

“I didn’t struggle [watching Brazil 2014], I adjusted the rest of my life around the World Cup, instead of the other way around.”

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Image courtesy: FIFA

But what are the health consequences of staying up late to watch football?

The human body has a biological cycle that determines that we should be awake by day and asleep by night.

Research Assistant for UniSA’s Behaviour-Brain-Body Research Centre, Alex Agostini says having one sleepless night would only make people feel “cranky or a little bit tired during the day”.

However, if football fans continue staying up for more than one match, Ms Agostini says it would show a bigger impact on their health.

“Sleep is very important to every aspect of life,” Ms Agostini says.

“When we start messing with those biological rhythms, you start having health consequences.”

In 2014, a Chinese fan died during the World Cup broadcast and local doctors said the cause of death was a lack of sleep for several nights of watching football.

With devices for viewing and television replays easily available, the solution may be to record the games or watch them later.

However, the Adelaide University Soccer Club Women’s National Premier League centre-back, Alex Windell, says nothing compares to watching the World Cup live as it only happens every four years.

“Especially, if I know the score,” Ms Windell says.

“It’s not the same if you’re just waiting for the goal or something to happen.”

A few suggestions to minimise the consequences of sleep deprivation

Do not drive to work after a match—a lack of proper sleep increases the risk of car accidents by impairing a person’s reaction speed.

If you are hungry at night, eat small meals—Ms Agostini says the body does not know what to do with food at that time, so she recommends having healthy snacks in small amounts such as almonds.

Turn the lights off when watching matches—exposing yourself to light at early hours disrupts your biological clock.

Try to sleep before the game—Ms Agostini says it is better to sleep before and after the match than to stay up all night.

Getting ready for this year’s World Cup

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Image courtesy: FIFA

It is time for passionate football fans to tick the boxes on their pre-match checklists: the schedule, the almonds, the alarm clocks set at the right time, their football shirts, their blankets and their rituals.

Adelaide University Soccer Club Women’s National Premier League midfielder Daisy Allen has the ritual of cheering for her beloved England by turning the TV up “really loud and singing the national anthem”.

“Yeah, I gotta turn it up and sing it with the boys,” Ms Allen says.

DJ Lamberts has an Adidas Tango football—a football brand first introduced as the official ball in the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina—and a scarf-like flag that he lays down under the television.

“I always close every door at home so that the ball doesn’t go away,” Lamberts says.

Well, everything is ready to enjoy the 2018 FIFA World Cup from tomorrow morning.

Which national team are you barracking for?

For more information, click here to read the full 2018 FIFA World Cup schedule.

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