THE WORLD CUP is underway and, for the first time since the French hosted it in 1998, I won’t be watching in person. Traveling to Qatar, with its dreadful human rights record and appalling treatment of migrant workers — not to mention getting extorted on flights, food, and lodging by the corrupt bastards at FIFA who sold their soul to have the world’s greatest sporting spectacle played in a desert nation of 300,000 people with no significant soccer culture, in the winter no less — was never an option for me. So, instead I’ll be watching it at home, in Vegas.
Well, some games I’ll watch at home. Many of the 64 matches I’ll take in at venues around the city. The beauty of the World Cup, which is said to attract 5 billion viewers around the globe — 50 times more than the Super Bowl! — is, of course, to share it with other fans. Local kick-off times aren’t exactly ideal with games in the group stage starting at 2, 5, 8, and 11 a.m. Pacific Time. But, hey, Las Vegas is a 24/7 town, so there will be no shortage of places showing the action.
Here are some of the spots where you’ll find me during the next month:
Crown & Anchor (1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-739-8676), whose description as “the most famous English pub in the world” sounds a bit far-fetched (kinda like the English fans who for decades seemed to regard their team as true World Cup champions after winning it once, in 1966). This time, England actually is among the favorites and should be good value for money. Every game will be shown on screens inside the pub and outside in the garden, as well as at the Little Crown & Anchor, the pub’s second location (4755 Spring Mountain Road, 702-876-4733).
YOU’LL LIKELY find a good number of England fans at McMullan’s (4650 W. Tropicana Ave., Tel. 702-247-7000) too, despite it being an Irish pub. This also happens to be the home of the Official Liverpool Supporters Club of Las Vegas, so if you want to catch any of the Liverpool players in action (like Virgil Van Dijk for Holland or Darwin Nunez for Uruguay), this is the place. (Bias disclaimer: I’m a diehard Liverpool supporter myself, and spend a lot of time here.)
Fans of the U.S. national team will gather with faces painted at Hennessey’s Tavern (425 E. Fremont St., 702-382-4421), opposite from the Heart Attack Grill. This bar and restaurant is home to the Las Vegas chapter of the American Outlaws, the unofficial U.S. national team supporters group, and it was hoppin’ for the Americans’ opening game against Wales, which ended 1-1. Next up for the U.S.: a showdown with England on Nov. 25 at 11 a.m.
You can also catch the USMNT games at Area 15, which offers 360-degree viewing on three 23-foot-tall walls with state-of-the-art sound. A World Explorer pass costs $99, but supposedly includes a drink or two. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
ANOTHER MONSTER match-up is Mexico-Argentina on Nov. 26 at 11 a.m. There should be a lot of Mexican bars and restaurants around town showing this game, including El Rincon de Los Remedios (923 N. Pecos Road, 702-642-0782), where fans of the Las Vegas Lights normally congregate.
The place to watch Germany redeem itself after being knocked out in the group stage in the last World Cup is Hofbrauhaus (4510 Paradise Road, 702-853-2337) where all the games will be shown on multiple screens in the beer garden, and where specialty shots like the Munich Apple are on offer. The game against Spain on Nov. 27 at 11 a.m. is a big one.
The Circa Resort and Casino (1 E. Fremont Street, 800-426-1906) is hosting watch parties inside the three-story sports book, with all the games showing on its 78-million-pixel screen, as well as the big screen at the pool. Similarly, The Front Yard at Ellis Island (4178 Koval Lane, 702-733-8901) has an 18-foot big screen in its atrium showing all the games. Note that the restaurant doesn’t open until 10 a.m., so you’ll only be able to catch the late games there, but the bar is open 24/7.
Maybe you want to look for a smaller place serving food or drinks from a country that is playing in the Cup. If so, you could head to the Pierogi Village (8540 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 725-735-2095) to cheer on Robert Lewandowski and Poland against Argentina on Nov. 30 at 11 a.m. Or Kimchi (3049 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-894-9944) to get yourself some Korean breakfast while watching Heung-min Son and compatriots take on Portugal on Dec. 2 at 7 a.m.
Sadly, my Swedish team didn’t qualify for the tournament, so IKEA is out.
Photo: Fauzan Saari/Unsplash