More than a thousand soccer fans packed Plattduetsche Park Restaurant in Franklin Square on Sunday to watch the final match of the monthlong World Cup.
For more than an hour and a half, Long Islanders were rapt, with gazes fixed to the many flat-screen TVs dotting the bar, pausing only to wash down huge Bavarian pretzels with sips of beer and erupt at decisive moments during the match.
Most fans at the viewing party, draped in Croatian checkerboard jerseys, were disappointed by the final result that saw France defeat Croatia 4-2. But viewers said that regardless of the result, the World Cup was an occasion to enjoy a good game with family and friends.
Jen Honovic Herczeg, 38, traveled from Philadelphia with her husband and 1-year-old son to watch the final at Plattduetsche with family.
“This is the second best thing to being in Croatia,” she said. “All of our parents are immigrants, so to be watching with them is an amazing feeling.”
Luciano Kolic, 68, of Floral Park, gathered with nearly 100 Croatian friends and family to watch the historic match, the first final Croatia has played in.
“We love the sport, I grew up with it,” Kolic said. “They made history already being in the match… It was great watching them come to this point.”
A smaller contingent of fans celebrated France’s win exuberantly, dancing and chanting “Allez les Bleus.”
Beth and Julia Foures, visiting Long Island from Grenoble, France, said they were proud of the French win and heartened to have been able to celebrate with fellow fans.
“I’m happy we found French supporters to watch together, even on a different continent,” Julia, 15, said.
Sunday was France's second World Cup title, with the first in 1998.
August Harris, 33, of Baldwin, who described himself as a lifelong team France fan, said that the final match culminated a month of World Cup fever.
“Every four years the world needs to take a month off,” Harris said. “Soccer is the one sport where you can even have opposing teams, regardless of who wins, who loses, everybody ends up having a good time… I feel like I’m falling in love with football all over again.”
Aside from France and Croatia, national allegiances were still in full display on Sunday. Juan Nielsen and Pablo Generosa, both 23 and of Lynbrook, were proudly wearing Argentina’s pale blue and white stripes.
Though dismayed at Argentina’s exit in the knockout round, they said that the World Cup ultimately is an event about unity and bringing countries together.
“The world can take a step back together and watch the sport,” Generosa said. “You put your differences aside for a second.”