The ball’s rolling in Deutschland, but soccer bucks are rolling all over the world, including India. The city’s five stars, stand-alone pubs and bars have all smiled their way to the bank ever since the World Cup began. But only till now. Just when the action was getting hotter, the city’s excise laws have played spoilsport. According to law, the pubs will have to close down bang at the midnight hour. So, the watering holes will not be able to screen the semi-finals and the final match of the World Cup as these will be played late in the night.
As far as the final is concerned, the stand-alone pubs and restaurants are set to suffer the most. Says Sanjoy Roy of TGI Fridays, “Unfortunately, we will not be able to screen the final match because the excise laws don’t permit us to stay open.” Agrees Atul Kapur of QBA, “It’s a big problem as the shops are suppose to be shut after midnight. One has to pay a licence fee of about Rs 15,000-20,000 to get the time extended which can be done only thrice in a year.” Even if the place stays open, it can’t serve liquor beyond 12 o’clock.
And the cops are leaving no stone unturned in keeping a tab on the soccer-generated excitement. A live screening of the France-Brazil match by the French embassy at Khel Gaon was cancelled on Saturday for security reasons, on the advice of the Delhi police.
It sounds like loss, considering that so far, anybody associated with soccer has made a profit out of it — right from the official sponsor Adidas to the local businessmen. Informs Andreas Gellner, MD, Adidas India, “The entire FIFA World Cup range has done extremely well.” The beer companies too have registered an increase in sales and watering holes have also successfully wooed the crowd with deals and giant screens. Akhil Mathur of Le Meridien says, “Our sales have shot up by almost 100 per cent. We have to bounce back 50 to 100 people every day.”
But as the excitement reaches a crescendo, we guess one will have to just catch it at home alone.