England’s first World Cup quarter-final fixture in 12 years has thrown many carefully laid plans into disarray. The Three Lions’ tie against Sweden in Samara Russia on 7 July 2018 is presenting many football lovers with a dilemma as many events, theatre and concert organisers across the capital resigned to losing audiences and footfall.
Not many had foreseen the peculiar scenario as England’s young and inexperienced team had been considered a work in progress and had not even been tipped to progress deep into the latter stages of the tournament staged every four years. The country last won the the Jules Rimet trophy [now the FIFA World Cup] as hosts in 1966.
July is a notoriously busy month on the summer calendar with music festivals, neighbourhood fetes, market festivals, art shows and London’s major outdoor music concerts like the British Summer Time in Hyde Park. The almost two-week heatwave that has made June the hottest month since records began has also seen more social gatherings across the capital with people basking in the good weather.
Organisers are however doing their best to accommodate those who want to keep an eye on the football as well as attend pre-booked events while others insist the shows must go on. A sold-out BST in Hyde Park has headline acts The Cure and The Editors gig slot clashes with the big game, but it is set to carry on in its 3pm slot, same time the match kicks off.
Tom Smith remains sanguine about the situation: “I’m sure many won’t come to the gig until the game finishes… but many will, plus I’m sure loads will have it on on their phones whilst we play – and I for one can’t wait to soundtrack Spurs’ dire attempts to score a goal in open play for those World Cup crazy technologically savvy sunburnt goths stood in Hyde Park this Saturday afternoon.”
The festival’s director, Jim King thinks it will be unfair to have an interlude to allow revellers watch the game when “people paid a lot of money to come and see all of those bands”.
Alison Camps, co-chairwoman of Pride in London which also coincides with the match said: “We obviously wish the England team all the best, we are hoping that all the rainbows, unicorns and glitter will work their magic and send good vibes over to Russia.”
“I imagine there will be a lot of multitasking – I’m hoping there will be even more people celebrating on the streets after England have a famous victory.”
Even the Wimbledon men’s singles final is on a collision course with the World Cup final on 15 July. They both start at 4pm. One of the sporting highlights of a British summer is a football-free zone and no screens will be showing England’s game as the nation bids only for the third time in its history to advance into the semi-finals of a World Cup after 1966 and 1990.