FIFA, or the Federation Internationale de Football Association, Men’s World Cup is set to kick off with Qatar facing Ecuador on Nov. 20. This is the first-ever World Cup held during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter.
Over 28 days, the best soccer-playing countries will play a total of 64 games to crown one nation with the Jules Rimet trophy, awarded once every four years. Favorites to take it home this year include five-time World Cup winner Brazil, two-time World Cup winner Argentina who are on a 35 game unbeaten streak and France, the reigning champion. Countries like Germany, Spain and England are also expected to have strong performances.
Not all countries get to participate though. Notable nations left out of the World Cup include the 2020 UEFA Euro champion Italy, former quarter-finalist Sweden, former round of 16 placer Colombia and Nigeria.
This World Cup represents a transition from one era to the next. Soccer icons like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will compete in their final World Cup and will likely retire without ever winning the tournament. Younger stars like Kylian Mbappe, Pablo “Gavi” Martín Páez Gavira, Phil Foden and Vinícius José Paixão de Oliveira Júnior are expected to replace them in the spotlight and define a new generation of footballers.
Lewis & Clark is perfectly situated to watch this special World Cup. In recent years, the college has had students representing more than 50 countries on campus. While there are no events or watch parties programmed for the World Cup, there are still many in the community who plan to tune in.
Vasty Jean-Francois ’25, a student from Haiti, is excited for the World Cup despite his home country failing to qualify. Haiti has only qualified once for the World Cup in 1974 and citizens decide between supporting Brazil and Argentina in place of the national team. Even in Haiti where the Argentina/Brazil rivalry runs deep, Jean-Francois views the World Cup as a unifying force.
“Even though people support different teams, it’s a good way to bring people together,” Jean-Francois said.
Jean-Francois has supported Brazil with his father since he was a kid while his brothers have supported Argentina. Even though he inherited his support for Brazil paternally, Jean-Francois also attributes his fandom to Brazil’s playstyle.
“They reflect what the purpose of the game is, a collective game where you pass until you score,” Jean-Francois said.
While Jean-Francois has some reservations about Qatar for their human rights violations and FIFA for their support of Qatar, he still plans to support Brazil and their collective playstyle in the upcoming World Cup.
As the event draws closer, billions of sports fans will support their home country or some other country they identify with. Despite numerous international disagreements, soccer will unite countries for a brief time.
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