French fans swept up in excitement
By JENNY YUEN, Toronto Sun
The cheers echoed through the tiny enclave upstairs at Zazou Lounge, sung by soccer fans in a sea of red, blue and white France jerseys. About 75 of them packed the King St. W. bar Friday afternoon to cheer on their favourite team during a World Cup game against Uruguay.
“It was a good game but not enough to win,” soccer fan Alex Onave, 25, said. “I hope the best for my team because I’m French, but I’m not sure we have a good chance of winning.”
The game ended 0-0, with Uruguay getting a red card, much to the delight of everyone in the room.
“This is a crucial game because we’re going to see how France is going to do, overall,” Loic Lawson, 28, said as he watched the match on a projection screen at the bar. “The first game is very important, so we (needed to) manage to get a draw.”
Lawson came with his French buddies to enjoy a European atmosphere.
“I’m not working this afternoon and it’s beautiful so I’m going to enjoy the game, drink some beer and socialize,” he said. “France has been doing well since 1986. They’re considered a powerhouse.”
Veronique Peyrel moved to Toronto from France seven years ago but feels like she’s in her hometown when she’s with French soccer fans.
“I’m here to cheer for France,” the 29-year-old said. “It’s only Day 1 and a lot of people took some time off work — and as soon as there’s good action, people get very excited.
“You’re gathering in the communities together and having everyone cheering in one voice — one united team. People (cheering for) different teams celebrate together after the game, that’s what is fun about it.”
Beers and trays of appetizers were abandoned for nail-biting tension while fans watched attacks on Uruguay’s goalkeeper Fernando Muslera during the final minutes. Anguished groans erupted as France simply couldn’t score.
Roberto Perrone, who manages Zazou and Le Saint Tropez, the restaurant tied to the lounge, said business is booming because of World Cup action.
“Turnout is excellent. It’s good to see the same faces as four years ago. They keep coming back,” he said. “This has been a centrepiece for the past 12 to 16 years (of the World Cup). I have a lot of staff today. It’s always busy and people get really excited.”
France has another chance to prove itself in its next game Thursday against Mexico.
“If they win, we’re all going to get drunk and if they lose, we’re still going to get drunk,” Lawson said with a laugh.