A beautiful summer day did not deter hard-core soccer fans Sunday as locals, displaced foreigners and people passing through Malibu sought public venues with televisions tuned to the World Cup final from Paris.
“It’s not totally jam-packed like the NBA finals,” said Paul Spooner, general manager of Duke’s Restaurant, “but we’ve had decent crowds.” For the final, he said, about 90 people filled all the tables, the bar and standing areas at the establishment’s Barefoot Bar.
For other World Cup games, he said, the restaurant has hosted “foreign visitors, people hanging out to check it out, lots of Hispanics. People are interested in the score.”
In a monumental upset, host nation France defeated four-time world champion Brazil 3-0 in the final.
Although fans in Malibu were not wildly partisan, Brazil seemed to be favored over France.
Waiter John Rogers said “about 60 to 70” watched the final at the Malibu Inn. “People don’t come especially to the bar,” he said. “They filter over from the restaurant. Most of the cooks here were going for Brazil.”
About 55 people watched the final at PierView, according to hostess Michele Kodrik. “Some were regulars, some I’ve never seen before,” she said. “It was a mixed crowd. Most people wanted Brazil to win.”
A trio of scuba divers, who canceled their second dive in Malibu because of bad visibility, settled on Pizza Hut after looking elsewhere in town. “We’ve been running from one place to another looking for a television,” said Hans Eckert of Claremont, originally from Berlin. One restaurant, he said, had a television but could not get Channel 7.
Eckert was with his friends, Paul Fuchs of Hacienda Heights, an “Austrian German” from Peru, and Walter Marti of Upland, originally from Switzerland. They were rooting for France, predicting a victory would, Eckert said, “make it a stronger soccer nation.” They were not mourning Germany’s absence in the final. “Germany didn’t deserve it,” Eckert said, referring to Germany’s 3-0 quarter-final shellacking by Croatia. “They are aging.”
Their main complaint was the new two-glass beer limit at Pizza Hut, which also no longer sells beer by the pitcher.
Another trio, special-needs counselors for the Crippled Children’s Society, stopped at Pizza Hut on their way to work at Camp Joan Mier at County Line. Counselors Jermaine Perry of Hawthorne and Kielon Young of Los Angeles accompanied Maciek Pilatowicz of Warsaw, Poland. “I love soccer,” Pilatowicz said, gesturing to his colleagues. “They are hungry.”
Two lifeguards returning from a lifeguard competition in Port Hueneme stopped at Pizza Hut to watch the game. “We’re taking a break,” said Anthony Vela of Culver City, who was accompanied by Jeremie Simkins of Torrance. Their friend Courtney Ellis of Australia said, “I have never watched a soccer game in my whole life.”
Carey Peck of Malibu came to Pizza Hut to watch the final with his son Chris, 7, who is more of a basketball fan. “We don’t have a TV at home,” said Peck, who was backing Brazil.