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Soccer Fans Descend On SF Civic Center For World Cup Viewing

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San Francisco, world cup, Soccer, Civic Center

Soccer fans watch a live telecast of the U.S. women’s soccer World Cup semi-final game against France in front of City Hall July 13, 2011 in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Bay Area soccer fans braved wind, fog and mist Wednesday in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza to watch the women’s World Cup semifinals.

About 100 people had gathered in front of City Hall for the 9 a.m. start of the USA vs. France game Wednesday morning, setting up lawn chairs and blankets. The U.S. triumphed, beating France 3-1 to advance to the final on Sunday.

Many of those same fans stuck around for the other semifinal match between Sweden and Japan, which won the game 3-1.

The city plans another public viewing for the USA-Japan final at 11:45 a.m. Sunday.

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“We were here last year at the World Cup,” said Ronan Reynolds, a lifelong soccer fan who was born in Ireland but has lived in the US for 20 years. “I grew up with it, and I’ve played it the last couple years.”

Sony Hussein, an immigrant from Fiji Islands, said he planned to watch the first game but wasn’t sure about the second. “I’ve been watching soccer for a long time, been playing soccer too. I love soccer,” he said.

Sam and Mariela Saravia, from South San Francisco, sat on lawn chairs and held an umbrella over their heads as they sipped coffee.

“We rearranged our entire schedule so we could be here today,” said Mariela Saravia, who was born in Venezuela but moved to San Francisco when she was 16.

“Yeah, we’re lifelong fans,” her Guatamalan-born husband said.

Children kicked soccer balls around the plaza, playing with the equipment provided by event organizers. Inflatable castles and slides and face-painting were also available, and food carts lined the plaza serving pretzels, coffee and sandwiches.

The viewing was hosted by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

Jens-Peter Jungclaussen, who said he helped organize Wednesday’s event, said he expected a good turnout despite the discouraging weather.

Jungcluassen said he first organized a World Cup viewing in Dolores Park in 2006 on his own, and had difficulty finding sponsors. He said he put $16,000 on his credit card to pay for that event, which he said was attended by 10,000 people.

Jungclaussen, who was born in Germany but has lived in the U.S. for the past nine years, said he figured that if he couldn’t watch the game in his home country he might as well organize a viewing.

“If I can’t go back to Germany to see the final, I’ll just put a big screen in the park,” he said.

Following the success of Jungclaussen’s first event, he began working with parks and recreation on the Civic Center events.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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