France had the advantage on the field Thursday, beating Peru 1-0 to ensure passage to the second round. But Peru had an overwhelming advantage in the streets of Yekaterinburg, where its supporters outnumbered French fans by about 7 to 1.
Peruvians have been waiting since 1982 to see their team play in a World Cup. And even though its stay will be short — Thursday’s loss, its second in as many games, means Peru will go home after the group stage — many fans had to see it in person, even if they couldn’t get into the stadium.
Many fans arrived without tickets and watched the game from a fan zone in a city park.
Before the tournament, FIFA said 43,583 tickets have been sold in Peru. Only six countries bought more.
Angel Carranza, a Peru fan from Dallas, spent about $10,000 to come to Russia, selling his blue Ford Mustang GT to finance the trip.
“It is a high investment,” he told a reporter before Peru’s tournament opener last week. “But we [were] waiting for decades to put our money in this. If I hadn’t come, I would never forgive myself.
Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta … but don’t chant
A day after being fined by FIFA for its fans’ use of an anti-gay chant, an official with Mexico’s soccer federation said he hoped the slur would not be used Saturday when Mexico plays South Korea in the southern port city of Rostov-on-Don.
“For the Mexican fan, the World Cup is a party. You can see it on the streets the whole time. But at the stadium, fans should stop the chant, or modify it, or change it altogether. It would be better for everyone,” Mexican federation general secretary Guillermo Cantu said.
FIFA has warned the federation that supporters identified as chanting the slur could have their fan IDs canceled.
“The rules have been there since the tournament started,” Cantu said. “So in the end, it’s our responsibility.”
Midfielder Marco Fabian urged fans to substitute “Cielito Lindo,” the national team’s unofficial anthem, for the chant, which many fans yell when the opposing team’s keeper is executing a goal kick.
“It’s a good moment to send a message,” he said during a press conference before the team left Moscow. “We ask people not to do the chant. There are different rules now.
“It would be a shame for people to not be allowed in. It’s nice to hear “’Cielito Lindo’ and the shout of ‘Mexico.’ We should [try to] avoid punishments.”
Counting the house
World Cup attendance topped 1 million Thursday, and through 23 games the tournament’s stadiums have been filled to more than 97% of capacity.
The last World Cup four years ago in Brazil drew 3.43 million spectators, an average of 53,592 a game.
It figures ...
The World Cup by the numbers, compiled in part by the folks at Soccer America:
1: Number of holdovers from the 2002 World Cup (Rafa Marquez, Mexico)
5-4: Height of the shortest player in the tournament, Mexico’s Javier Aquino
9: Members of Germany’s 2014 championship team who returned in 2018.
16: Players from Manchester City at the World Cup, the most of any professional team.
3: Players from the Los Angeles Football Club at the World Cup, most of any MLS team
45: Age of Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, the oldest player to ever make a World Cup squad.
218: Pounds Panama’s Roman Torres weighs, making him the heaviest player in Russia.
8: The number of goals for Russia in its first two matches, most by a host nation since Italy in 1934.