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Gaza, June 12 (IANS) Thirty-year-old Amru Shawwa from the Gaza Strip did not think twice before he spent half of his salary buying a new receiver that would enable him to watch the 2014 football World Cup.
The young man's love for football and his favourite team, Argentina, led him blindly to a satellite store in Gaza city to buy the new beIN Sports receiver and viewing card for $300, reports Xinhua.
In Gaza, football is widely followed by people of all ages. A few hours before the world's most important sports event, Gazans are gearing up for the World Cup – an event seized upon to allevate their sufferings caused by the seven-year Israeli blockade and the internal political strife.
The World Cup will kick off Thursday and conclude on July 13.
Shawwa said the World Cup is the most important sports competition for him and this is why he decided to buy the new device. He hoped that Argentina would win the title easily since they have the world's best footballers including Leo Messi and Angel De Maria.
He also hoped that Algiers, the only Arab country participating in the event, and Switzerland would be the dark horses of the competition.
"I would love to see Algiers in advanced stages during the competition but I still want Argentina to win the title," he said.
Across the Gaza Strip, cafes and restaurants overlooking the beach and those inside the City's crowded streets have hung up flags and images of soccer stars of national teams participating in the tournament.
Sportswear stores have showcased uniforms of foreign national teams, including Brazil which hosts the competition, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Algiers.
The new subscription rates of beIN Sports channels, which has the exclusive rights to broadcast the championship's matches in the Middle East, will deter most fans in the poverty stricken Gaza strip from watching the matches at home.
beIN Sports, formerly known as Al Jazeera Sport, started to use a new receiver to prevent the illegal decoding of its channels.
The new beIN Sports viewing card plus the new receiver with one-year subscription costs $300.
"We wait for the World Cup eagerly, it comes once in four years, even people who are not real fans of football (they) love to watch the World Cup matches," said Mohammed Ali, a Brazil supporter, as he was testing the new beIN device which he just bought.
"Despite the dire economic situation, I bought the receiver," he said with a smile.
The high prices of the new subscriptions does not mean that those who cannot afford the new devices would not watch the World Cup; cafe shops can solve the problem.
Most of the fans plan to follow the competitions at restaurants and cafe shops. All they need to spend is around $2 each.
Football fans can reserve their seats at cafeterias that would be busy and overcrowded with watchers.
Fans believe the atmosphere at cafe shops is more energetic for such an event as competitive fans make the place feel like a real stadium.
Most football fans in Gaza are in love with Brazil and hope it would win the title. However, many people believe that Spain may have the last laugh, or at least reach second place.
But a few persons support Algiers, the sole representative of Arabs in the contest.
Abu Wasim Saleh, a science teacher from Gaza City, hopes that Spain could be the winner of the World Cup.
"I have already reserved my seat at this cafe shop since I cannot afford to buy the new receiver. Sitting at the cafe shop will at best cost me $3," said Abu Wasim as he played cards with two of his friends at the cafe shop facing the Gaza beach.
His friend, Ahmed Zeyara, said he agrees that watching the matches at a cafe shop is much cheaper than buying the beIN receiver. "The Cup is Brazilian," he said, teasing his friends.