Staff Editorial – FIFA World Cup unites student body

Sports bring people together.

The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, held every four years, brings together the best national soccer teams from around the globe to biggest competition in sports outside of the Olympics. For most casual fans in America, this tournament contains the only soccer games they will watch over the four year span.

After failing to qualify in 2018, the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) got the invitation this year. They were in Group B, one of the toughest in the tournament, with England, Wales and Iran. Over 16 million people watched as the United States beat Iran 1-0 to advance to the round of 16. The team then fell to the Netherlands 3-1. America’s success in the tournament after not qualifying four years ago has helped reinvigorate soccer to the national culture. The average Sunday Night Football game still outpaces the US World Cup games in terms of viewership, but soccer does not need to pass football to make an impact.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is being played in Qatar, meaning that the games either take place in the morning or early afternoon rather than primetime viewing. Dedicated soccer fans are waking up early in the morning in order to not miss any action, but even the casual sports fan is tuning in for the major matches. In fact, according to Fox, Cincinnati was the top city in the country for viewership of the Round of 16 match against the Netherlands.

The world cup has been successful in displaying that soccer can be a very exciting sport to watch and has introduced the sport to a wider audience. Cincinnati is a shining example of a growing soccer city. In 2021, FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium finished fourth in attendance in Major League Soccer. The city has rallied around the team in its short life. Cincinnati served as a microcosm for America’s interest in soccer during the world cup.

When the World Cup and Olympics come around, people often say that the US would be dominant in soccer if our best athletes played. After all, our womens team is consistently one of the best in the world. Instead, sports like football, basketball and baseball take top priority with it media coverage. The solid performance of the men’s team, who were the second youngest team in the tournament with an average age of 25, signals optimism for the future of the sports. Perhaps the United States’ return to the World Cup after eight years will inspire a new generation of soccer players and help the team reach its full potential. As this year demonstrated, there is a market for the sport.

The World Cup is still captivating audiences after the United States elimination. Viewers that can only name Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar were cheering vigorously as underdogs like Japan and Morocco advanced deep into the tournament. A highlight of December lunch has been watching games on the big screen or at individual tables. Hundreds of students, many of whom never watch soccer, were enthralled as Croatia upset Brazil in penalty kicks. That is the power of sports. A group of people can share a communal experience of emotions whether they have a connection to the team’s or are just viewing for entertainment.

Soccer may not be the most popular sport in the United States, or even in the top three. Still, for one month it has united people around the country to cheer, be captivated by penalty shootouts and repeatedly ponder the same thought. There should be no ties in sports.