New Haven rings in start of 2014 World Cup

The World Cup Village in downtown New Haven. (Photo: Josh Scheinblum)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The rainy streets of New Haven can make the sunshine in a place like Brazil feel like a world away.

But thanks to a black and white dotted ball, it’s about to get a whole lot closer.

The World Cup soccer tournament began Thursday with a match between host nation Brazil and Croatia.

“It’s an honor for Croatia to be in the first game,” said Andrija Jukic of Milford, who caught the game at O’Tooles on Orange Street.

Not far down the street, Christy’s Irish Pub was also taking in opening day.

“It’s the first day of a month-long event,” said manager Michael Fitzgerald. “Soccer is probably the most unifying sport in the world.”

The Cup happens once every four years and pits nations from all over the world against each other.

“The fans are die-hard fans, everyone lives and dies for their team,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ll be shoulder-to-shoulder packed (at Christy’s).”

Back down the road, in the plaza next to O’Tooles, the city of New Haven opened up the World Cup Village, where big screens will play all the games (see photo below).

But it’s not just New Haven that’s celebrating the epic 32-team tournament.

A handful of local bars and restaurants across the state are hosting viewing parties, including: the Gingerman in Norwalk; SBC in Stamford, Southport, Milford and Branford; Bobby V’s in Stamford; Anna Liffey’s in Fairfield and New Haven; and Darien Social in Darien.

The U.S. men’s national team plays its first game Monday at 6 p.m. against Ghana.

Josh Scheinblum reporting

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