UAE: Fans laud Messi, call final between Argentina, France the best game in World Cup history

Fan zones were jam-packed, and organisers needed to add seats to accommodate the excess demand

By Nasreen Abdulla, Ehab Qadeer, Syed Ayaz

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Argentina's Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup trophy during the Qatar 2022 World Cup trophy ceremony. Photo: AFP
Argentina's Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup trophy during the Qatar 2022 World Cup trophy ceremony. Photo: AFP

Published: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 12:33 AM

Last updated: Mon 19 Dec 2022, 12:56 AM

UAE residents all across the country chose different fan zones to watch the thrilling finale of the Fifa World Cup tournament. The game between Argentina and France went down to the wire with unbelievable moments, spectacular goals and a nail-biting finish.

French fan Mohammed Azhar Ali watched the match with his friends at a café in Abu Dhabi. "What a match it was," he said. "The atmosphere was fantastic. The first half was boring, but from the second half onwards, it was one match I wouldn't have missed for the world. I am disappointed with the result, but France fought valiantly. I think this is the best World Cup match I have ever witnessed."


Fan zones in Abu Dhabi were jam-packed, with organisers needing to add seats to accommodate the excess demand.

"It's a big crowd here at the Mother of the Nation Festival, where the final is being live-streamed. The atmosphere is electrifying," said Hassan, a resident.


"Our seating capacity at the fan zone is 300. We have added another 200 seats, and footfall is more than that at the Boundary Backyard," said Shain Xavier, food and beverages manager of Abu Dhabi Cricket and Sports Hub, where the fan zone is set up against the backdrop of the iconic Sheikh Zayed Cricket stadium.

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi

Abdul Hanan, a realtor based in Dubai, was at Drama Cafe in Oud Metha to cheer for his favourite player Leonel Messi. "I came alone and wanted to see the best players game peacefully. I wanted to see him lift the world cup since he started his game,"

"This comes as a moment of celebration for a month now. I will be celebrating with my colleagues and friends the epic win. Now the debate between the best player is done. The world learnt who is the GOAT (greatest of all times)," added Hanan.

Abdul Hanan
Abdul Hanan

Cousins Zahra and Hiba watched the match at another cousin's home with their extended family- a large group of over 30 relatives. "We had fans of all ages rooting for different countries," said Zahra. "It was utter chaos, but in the end, it united us as a family much like sports unites us across borders."

Diehard Argentina fan Hiba waited until the match was over to serve her cake to the family- iced with her team's colours. "It was an intense match," she said. "But it was a final we deserved, and Qatar deserved."

Hiba's cake
Hiba's cake

Advocate Praveen Palakeel watched the match at Sharjah Indian Association. "It was a tight match," he said. "Initially, it seemed like Argentina was dominating. However, after the second half, it was electrifying. Both teams performed their best, but luck was on Argentina's side. I am glad because I know this is Messi's final game, and he deserves that accolade. I am sure this will probably go down as one of the best finals or even the best match in World cup history."

Sharjah Indian Association
Sharjah Indian Association

Dubai resident Fazal travelled to Qatar to soak in the atmosphere and watched the match at a café. "It was the craziest match I have seen," he said. "And I think it was even more special that I could experience it in Qatar."

French national Abdel Bendaoud said he was incredibly proud of his team. "It was intense moments," he said. "They gave it their everything. I am glad that Mbappe scored thrice. He was listening to the advice of his friend (Achraf) Hakimi, never to give up. But it is a game, and there has to be a loser. However, I am extremely proud of my team. They did their best."

The fans' emotions at the BudX fan village ranged from sheer happiness to heartbreak.

Dubai resident Rio Vela from Costa Rica celebrated the win of her favourite team. "This is the best final ever," she said. "We couldn't have even prayed for this. Messi and Argentina played their hearts out. I feel Diego Maradona must have been looking down at them and smiling from heaven."

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Argentinian Lisa Rodriguez was beside herself with joy. "Our stars aligned," she said. "Our prayers were answered. All I can say is thank you, God, and thank you, king Leo. Thank you, Rosario (the village Messi grew up in), for giving us Leo the great."

Meanwhile, French expat Emma said she was heartbroken but proud of her team. "We came in with so many injuries and missing many key players. We lost Benzema just before the World Cup. Yet we fought tooth and nail till the very end."

American Essar Filipo felt blessed to have witnessed the match. "The coming generation will remember this game as his game (Messi's game)," she said. "It's barely football; it's Messi's ball."


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