Currently, the world is taken by World Cup fever, which, like the Olympics, happens every four years. In the United States, the Superbowl — the national championship game of American Football — happens in mere weeks, and it happens every year. But futbol, or soccer as the Yanks call it, is becoming more popular even in the U.S.
ON TO THE KNOCKOUT ROUNDS
This time around in Qatar, two of the game’s biggest and brightest players have been featured in the knockout-round matches: Argentina’s powerhouse Lionel Messi and Portugal’s beloved Cristiano Ronaldo.
No room for mediocrity here. It’s winner-takes-all at this point — there are no ties as we head toward the finals. After 90 minutes of a tie, 30 minutes of extra time are added. If that’s not enough, then it’s down to a penalty “shootout,” where each side takes a shot to the goalkeeper from the penalty spot. The most goals from five tries decides the winner (if the match still is tied after those five tries, the shootout keeps going until one team wins). And if you’ve searched the internet for some of the goalkeeper blocks — they are sights to behold.
But that’s just one aspect of the raucous excitement of futbol and the passion with which people support their teams.
We asked a number of fans around the globe how they prep for a big match. From what they eat to what they wear, and even their “big game” mindset — our responders brought the flavor:
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL; SOUTH AMERICA
We eat snacks mostly. Popcorn is very popular and lots of beer!
Brazilians are absolutely crazy about football. We simply shut everything down so we all can watch our National Team play every single match. It’s become a tradition. Employers (of most sectors) and schools release their employees and students before the matches start so everybody will be able to watch them. Bars get super crowded and families get together to watch the games. It’s a whole new atmosphere! People do have to pay back those hours after the championship is over, but so what? That’s how passionate we are about the FIFA World Cup.
A fun fact about me is that I started studying English formally in 2011 and my goal was to become articulate enough to interact with foreigners by the 2014 World Cup, which would take place in Brazil. And guess what? I made it! I went to the streets of Sao Paulo with my brother interviewing people from all over the world about their expectations for the matches that year, and also how they felt about visiting my country, since many were here for the first time.
It’s been a while since Brazil won the World Cup for the fifth time. Being the country with the most victories has its burden. We are all thirsty for the sixth trophy. That is all we talk about. I still remember watching our National Team when we won the World Cup back in 2002. Seeing Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Roberto Carlos, Marcos, Cafú and Ronaldo Fenômeno giving their heart and soul on the pitch was a huge joy for every Brazilian.
It’s been a while since Brazil won the World Cup for the fifth time.
This year, our stars are Neymar, Vinicius Júnior, Richarlison and Lucas Paquetá. Many kids love them and look up to them. They aren’t as experienced as our 2002 National Team, but we are positive we can win.
The 20-year fasting has lasted for way too long. Brazilians are ready to win the World Cup once again and remain the country with the most victories in the world. Go Brazil!
Domênica das Graças Alves da Silva, English Teacher
VANCOUVER, CANADA; NORTH AMERICA
Mostly wings and nachos have been my go-to for food.
For me, this World Cup has been super special, seeing Canada return to the big stage after 37 years. The group stage was a roller coaster ride; Argentina losing to Saudi Arabia, Germany getting knocked out, Belgium struggling to score a goal despite having world-class talent like Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.
Krish Kohli, Venture Capitalist
ISTANBUL, TURKEY; ASIA
If I am home, I watch on my laptop and I love to have dinner or lunch while watching the games.
To be honest, I didn’t follow much but I am a fan of Christiano Ronaldo, and I hope that Portugal would win the World Cup. This year’s tournament is very important in that it’s the last World Cup for some top players: Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski etc. Sometimes I watched in the gym as well, while running, on my phone.
My dream as is that of many football fans, is a final game featuring Argentina vs. Portugal — two legends.
Abdullah Oğuzhan Ateş, Photographer
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA; SOUTH AMERICA
I am a Venezuelan living in Argentina, a country where soccer is very passionate and inevitably infects you with emotion. In this World Cup, each game paralyzes the country.
Here, there is no such thing as the most important game; the most important is the next one.
Here, you learn to love soccer and I am a foreigner in love with the Argentine team!
Raúl Esteves, Hotelier
FRANKFURT, GERMANY; EUROPE
When I watch, I need to pick a team that I support and then wear clothes that match the color of their flag. I have blended in with a crowd of Croatians or Italians and the party is so good once that team wins.
I have not watched one single game this year. Finland is yet to qualify for these games and once they do, I’ll be sure to watch.
Jokes aside, I normally do watch and especially if the country of a friend of mine is playing or a country where I’m at.
Sadly this time I have no comments except that why did Morocco beat Spain?!
Petronella Willberg, Human Resources Solutions Analyst
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA; AFRICA
We usually watch the matches around dinner time.
I look forward to the World Cup and enjoy the hype around it. I always root for African teams and look forward to watching Brazil and France play as well.
There have been many surprises — Japan’s controversial second goal vs. Spain being one of them.
Brazil being knocked out in the quarterfinals by Croatia is also perplexing.
Nakalembo Simwaka, Learning Support Professional
UNITED STATES, NORTH AMERICA
When I’m gearing up to watch a match, I like to make cauliflower “wings” and fruit to keep my anxiety at bay through the intensity of the games. These pair nicely with the jumping and screaming my TV has to endure!
While I don’t follow the World Cup for my passport country, I have had a blast watching the matches of countries that have hosted me.
The happiest moment was when Morocco beat Spain a few days ago! I called all my friends in Meknes and we celebrated over the phone. They’ve worked so hard for this recognition.
All in all, the World Cup is the perfect time for me to reconnect with friends and with my loyalty to the cultures I’ve lived in throughout my life.
Katie Mitchell, Director of Creator Relations
LIMA, PERU; SOUTH AMERICA
We eat ceviche and drinks a lot of beers, dance salsa and play board games. Every time the World Cup is on, me, my friends and family all get together and watch the best games!
The World Cup for South America is the biggest sporting event, where family and friends get together to watch, eat and drink.
Every four years when the World Cup is back on, my family and I prepare super spicy ceviche, pop open some beers and enjoy the games!
Watching the World Cup, I feel like I am back in my childhood, feeling the same excitement and asking for the same wishes, that my favorite team will win and that my friends and family can come home for me to cook an extra spicy ceviche and pop open a lot of beers.
Choji Itosu, Entrepreneur and Leisure Consultant