WIMBLEDON officials insisted today they would not show the men’s football World Cup on the venue’s big screen, but said spectators were welcome to watch it on their phones.
The latest clash between the two events will come Wednesday evening when England face Croatia in the semi-finals in Russia, towards the end of men’s quarter-final day at the All England Club.
England’s victory over Sweden on Saturday afternoon did not have as dramatic an effect at Wimbledon as had been predicted. A significant number of spectators did leave in search of a pub but the mass exodus that had been predicted did not occur.
That was partly due to fans discreetly following the football while watching the tennis, which Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis said was fine.
“Saturday was a fantastic day at the championships, one of the best days I can remember,” he said. “We had superb tennis going on and we were benefiting from modern technology where people were able to follow the football, enjoy it, without disturbing other people.
“I thought that went really well. I’m sure it’ll be the same on Wednesday, a huge amount of interest in the tennis of course because it’s a tennis event but great interest in the football. Hopefully England will get through to the final and it will be one of the very special days at Wimbledon.”
Should England beat Croatia, their World Cup final against France or Belgium is likely to overlap with the men’s singles final, which starts two hours earlier at its traditional 2pm slot.
Lewis insisted it was not contractual obligations but tradition that has led to Wimbledon declining to move the match forward, while the mixed doubles final will remain in its usual position directly after the men’s final.
“What will happen next Sunday is Centre Court will be packed for the men’s singles final and I’m sure people will be able to follow the World Cup final,” he said.
“It’s not unheard of for there to be a ripple of applause or a shout when something special happens in a football tournament and I’m sure everybody will understand if it does. It didn’t happen on Saturday particularly, it didn’t disturb people.
“I was out and about around the grounds and you could tell when England had scored and it was lovely, it was wonderful. We didn’t receive one single complaint from anyone who was here who felt their enjoyment of the tennis was interrupted and I’m sure it’ll be the same next Sunday.
“The Wi-Fi worked brilliantly, that’s an indication we are supporting it, we’re not turning the strength of the signal down.
“I’ve met Gareth Southgate, he’s a great guy. Jeremy Dier, who’s the father of Eric Dier, is a member of the club, I’ve known him since I was a teenager. All of us here have a great interest in England.”
It would not be unprecedented if Wimbledon had decided to show the World Cup Wednesday evening. Twenty two years ago the European Championship semi-final between England and Germany was broadcast on the big screen.
“I gather it wasn’t very successful because it did interrupt people’s enjoyment of the tennis and what we did last Saturday actually did work very well,” Lewis said.
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