NASSAU, Bahamas: Visitors from all over the world descended on The Bahamas for the historic FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017, which ended on Sunday in dramatic fashion.
Organizers of the biennial event said The Bahamas was a great destination for the tournament and hundreds of players, coaching staff, event officials and beach soccer enthusiasts traveled for the event and stayed in Nassau for two weeks or more.
This was the first time that the World Cup was held in the Caribbean, but after The Bahamas edition it may not by the last. The stadium saw more than 2,000 spectators each day.
Thomas Berli, of Switzerland, said he traveled to The Bahamas with a group of people just to watch the World Cup. Switzerland was one of sixteen countries that were vying for the championship title.
“We enjoyed it very much,” Berli said. “We came with a group of ten. It’s crazy that we’re here to watch this. “It’s amazing. It was great.”
Switzerland lost in the semi-finals, but that did not stop the fans from coming out to enjoy the rest of the tournament.
Matt Stanley, of New Hampshire, was vacationing in The Bahamas for three days but said he spent most of that time at the stadium.
“It’s been great so far. We saw some great matches,” Stanley. “It’s real exciting soccer on the sand. I am happy that I chose these dates for my vacation during the same time as the World Cup. It’s a great event to come and check out.”
Mareen Guevara 32, who traveled from Trinidad and Tobago, said she enjoyed the games immensely.
“I loved the vibes at the stadium,” said the Caribbean native. “It was always hype. This is a fun atmosphere. I wish I could watch the finals but I must return to Trinidad. This is definitely the kind of events that we need in the Caribbean to build our profile. The Bahamas has done an amazing job pulling this off. And what a beautiful stadium! I’m happy to be here and to witness history in the making I will definitely be back.”
Like most evenings of the competition, the stadium was packed on Sunday for the final games. Iran held off Italy for the third spot. Iranian and Italian fans were out in full force waving flags and arms in the stands as their teams battled it out for third place. Through translators they said they were happy to make the long journey for the tournament.
Tahiti lost in the final against Brazil, making Brazil five-time World Cup champions. A large group of Tahitian fans travelled many miles to support their team to its second consecutive World Cup final, while fans that traveled from Brazil dominated the stands.
Marti Guzman, of Texas, was also cheering on Brazil.
“I loved it,” she said referring to the tournament in general. “I’m on my vacation. The Bahamas was a blast. We will come back when we can.”
The finalists were not the only teams to bring large groups to The Bahamas. Fans from Mexico, Panama, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates, just to name a few, brought their flags and enthusiasm to Nassau to support their teams.