Fans from all over the world have descended in Kiev for the Champions League final between two European heavyweights in Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Among the swarms of supporters currently thronging the capital of Ukraine, there are plenty from India as well. Just like the upcoming World Cup in Russia, Indians are going the extra mile by making the long journey to follow their favourite teams.
Back home in India, supporters are leaving no stone unturned to make Saturday night’s fixture between two iconic teams a memorable occasion. Both Liverpool and Real Madrid’s global support is immense and the story is no different in India too.
The two teams are widely supported among the youth and adults alike in the metropolitan cities of India. In several cities, official screenings of matches have become customary amongst fans bases of the top Europeans clubs.
As such, the momentous occasion of a Champions League final between two teams with illustrious histories is getting the attention it deserves all across India.
Liverpool’s official supporters’ groups in as many as 11 cities in India are organizing official live screenings of the match at various occasions. From New Delhi to Kochi and even towns like Kolhapur, the official supporters clubs have organized screenings for the encounter.
All over social media, thousands of supporters have confirmed their attendance to these screenings with some venues already being sold out days before the final.
These screenings have now taken a more professional outlook over the years with these events also tying up with official ticketing partners.
While official screenings are becoming the norm, many are turning it into a house party with close friends. That the match is scheduled to take place post-midnight has done nothing to dampen the spirits of the passionate fans who plan to turn the match into a celebration.
A group of supporters from Liverpool’s Mumbai Supporters Club has travelled all the way to Kiev to follow the Reds and they no doubt, are not the only ones. Back in Mumbai, two screenings have been organized by the supporters club and tickets to both have already sold out.
When contacted by Goal, the Liverpool Mumbai Supporters Club said: “This is a moment of pride for all Liverpool Fans around the world. We are in the Champions League Finals after a long wait of 11 years. We are back where we belong.”
“There is a great sense of excitement among fans in Mumbai, because a majority of these fans have been following this team for a long time, through the bad days and the good days, and they deserve this moment.
“Being the largest Liverpool Supporters Club in the Indian Subcontinent we have received an overwhelming response for our two official catch screenings which are happening in the suburbs of Mumbai. We have sold out over 1000 tickets online and we are expecting over 200-250 walk-in crowd to join us.
“It is one of the biggest nights in the club's recent history and none of the fans want to miss out on the occasion. Furthermore, we are also proud of all our members who have travelled to Kyiv, against all odds to watch the Finals. At the end of the night, we proudly want to sing ‘We've won it six times’.”
While Liverpool’s fan base seems to be the more dominant in India, supporters of Real Madrid are not too far behind. Unofficial supporters groups of the Los Blancos are organizing their own screenings as well in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Pena Madridista Delhi, a Real Madrid supporters group in the national capital, is also expecting around 1,000 fans to turn up for their live screening of the finals.
Sivaji, a member of the supporters club, said: “We Peña Madridista Delhi - The Official Supporters Club of Real Madrid in Delhi are a team of six, supported by hundreds of passionate Madridistas in Delhi. It took lots of effort from searching the venue to finalizing the event at Kaama Club but we are doing this for all the Madridistas and for the love of Real Madrid & football.
“We are supported by few organisations like Mahou India and The SportsRush (Ticketing Partner). We have already got 650 registrations and many people turn up for the spot registration. We are expecting a crowd of 1,000 people and we can't wait to bring the trophy home.”
Many pubs and bars in the mentioned cities are running their own screenings for the mouthwatering fixture with various lucrative packages being offered.
Options for football fans in the country for the finals are clearly many. From watching on television in the confines of one’s home to watching with 1,000s of strangers supporting a common team, supporters of the two clubs are clearly spoilt for choices.
Come Saturday, red and white replica jerseys of the two teams should be seen in abundance in the big cities as India gears up to welcome the Champions League final in style.