A couple hundred soccer fans gathered in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza today to watch one of the first games of the World Cup on a large screen.

The game between France and Uruguay today was one of more than a dozen that will be shown in the plaza outside City Hall during the next month as part of a partnership between the city’s Recreation and Park Department and several businesses and local nonprofits.

The World Cup, an international soccer tournament held every four years, is being hosted by South Africa this year. The host team kicked off the tournament with a match against Mexico this morning, followed by the France-Uruguay game a few hours later.

Fans of both teams gathered in front of the 13-by-18-foot screen to watch the game. Many had flags from one of the two countries draped around them or painted on their face.

Dante Arias said he came from Vallejo to join the crowd watching the game in support of Uruguay. His father is a native of Uruguay, so he has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Uruguay.

“I hope they go all the way, unless they face the U.S., then I’ll have to root for them,” he said.

Frank Tanne came to watch the game at Civic Center Plaza after hearing about it from a friend and checking out the information on www.worldcupsf.com, the website set up by organizers.

Tanne is from France but is studying in San Francisco for a year. During halftime, he said he was pleased with the French defense but was disappointed with the team’s offense.

“I think the French defense is great, but in attack they don’t do so well,” he said.

Arias had a similar opinion of the Uruguayan side during the halftime break.

“They’ve had a few chances, but I think they’re playing too defensive so far,” he said.

Both fans were right about their teams’ offenses – the game ended in a scoreless tie.

Manny Anaya, a youth soccer coach in San Francisco, is one of the organizers who is helping to bring 14 games to the screen at Civic Center Plaza between today and July 11.

Anaya said the biggest draw among the first round games is expected to be Saturday’s 11:30 AM match between the U.S. and England, which he said could draw a couple thousand people to the plaza.

Small soccer fields have also been set up for youth to play during the tournament, and food and drink booths will also be set up during the games.

For a full schedule of the games that will be broadcast in the plaza, visit www.worldcupsf.com.

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