FIFA World Cup 2018: The Belgium football team was being touted as the dark horse in the ongoing World Cup in Russia but the fans suffered a heartbreak after a 1-0 loss against France in the first semi-final of the tournament. Their agony was made worse on Wednesday as Belgium football fans who took to public transport were forced to listen to the French football anthem for two hours. This was part of a bet between Brussels public transport authority and its Parisian counterpart, which the former lost.
The two groups were involved in a banter before the match and had challenged each other on social media. If Belgium won, Paris would change signs at its Saint-Lazare station to “Saint Hazard” in honour of Belgian whirlwind midfielder Eden Hazard.
However, in case of a Belgium defeat, Brussels had to “treat” travellers to the anthem “Tous Ensemble” – All together – by late French rocker Johnny Hallyday at 8 and 10 am. If it makes Belgium supporters feel any better, at least Hallyday’s father was a Belgian.
The country honoured the singer’s heritage when he died last year, playing his greatest hits on trains and over loudspeakers on the Grand Place in central Brussels.
The task in hand for Belgium now is to win the third-place playoff on Saturday against England whom they defeated in the group round as well. Belgium’s best finish at a World Cup so far has been fourth when they lost the third-place playoff to France in the 1986 showpiece tournament.
France, on the other hand, will take on Croatia in a mouth-watering final on July 15. The French supporters enjoyed and partied all night in Russia after the win. The mood back home was no different as fans in Nice gathered for celebration but things took an ugly turn by the end of the match. Revellers let off firecrackers moments before the final whistle of France’s World Cup semi-final against Belgium and 27 football fans were hurt in the stampede that followed.
The win also saw Didier Deschamps become the first French coach to reach the final of two major tournaments – Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018.
If France manage to lift their second World Cup trophy, then Deschamps, who was captain of the triumphant team in 1998, will join a super-exclusive club as he will become only the third man in history to win the World Cup as a player and as a coach after Brazil legend Mario Zagallo and Germany great Franz Beckenbauer.