Soccer fans pack Coppa to cheer on teams in World Cup final

Soccer fans watch the World Cup final in Coppa on Sunday, July 15, 2018. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

Soccer fans watch the World Cup final in Coppa on Sunday. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

Soccer fans in Alaska’s capital city had few options to watch Sunday’s World Cup final.

Fortunately, a local ice cream shop opened early to screen the match between France and Croatia.

Coppa owner Marc Wheeler opened at 7 a.m. to screen the game live from Moscow. He served croissants and potica, a nut roll his Croatian grandmother used to make every Christmas.

“Croissants were more popular it seems, but we had the two tip jars and there were quite a few more tips in the Croatian tip jar,” Wheeler said.

Tip jars encourage Coppa patrons to show which team they supported in Sunday's World Cup final on July 15, 2018. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

Tip jars encourage Coppa patrons to show which team they supported in Sunday’s World Cup final on July 15, 2018. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

They’re usually closed on Sundays, but Wheeler said he made an exception for the final. He screened most of this year’s World Cup games.

“It’s just part of being kind of a neighborhood café and it’s been fun to have the Cup here,” he said.

More than 50 people crammed into the small space shoulder to shoulder. Many sat on the floor when the chairs ran out. They were so intent on the game, a few would jump whenever the espresso machine was turned on.

Despite the dreary Juneau weather, a few people even ordered ice cream.

There were jerseys representing both teams present, but the crowd’s allegiance definitely leaned toward the underdogs.

“When Croatia scored the place went wild, both times,” Wheeler said.

It was a hard-fought game, but in the end France won 4-2.

John Sisk wore his Croatia jersey, purchased when he visited the country two months ago.

“Croatia did one heck of a job in the World Cup to get to this point, and France is a great team,” Sisk said. “Croatia just gutted out game after game. It was really fun to follow them.”

The soccer fans cleared out quickly as staff began to clean up. It was National Ice Cream Day, after all, and Coppa needed to get its cart ready to hand out cones.

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