Goal: The World Cup “Plays” on Campus

Students share perspectives on controversies, favorite teams, and viewing experience surrounding the 2022 World Cup.


Summer Hu

On November 29, students rushed to watch the World Cup match between The United States and Iran at 12:09 P.M. Sophomores Sierra Lever, Gabby Gaspar, Seungbeom Baek, Tommy Michael, and Noan Cheng (‘26) crowd around Tommy’s phone during class.

As the holy grail of football (or soccer to some), the World Cup has garnered much attention from fans around the globe. On November 29, when the fire alarms suddenly went off, students clamored on the Quad while watching the match between the United States and Iran. Accompanied by World Cup themed free dress, the game symbolized heightening US-Iranian tensions. It also had fans secretly hiding their phones under their desks during class in order to watch. 

During the fire alarm that took place during the match, Lisbon Ziegler

On December 9, the quarterfinals game between the Netherlands and Argentina played on the big screen during Upper-School Lunch. (Summer Hu)

(‘23) observed that students were “huddled in masses watching over someone’s Fox free trial on their phone.” She said, “The spirit was unmatched on campus. During that impromptu fire drill, I haven’t felt that sense of comradery since the student vs. faculty basketball game last year.” She continued by noting that the “energy was contagious” from the excitement of the game. A soccer player and fan himself, Thomas Yerbury (‘25) also said that he watched the match between Iran and the U.S during his free period. 

Girls’ Varsity Soccer team player Lainie Jeffrey (‘25) said she watched the match during both her Spanish and Chemistry classes. “They projected it on the board. We watched the game and were trying to do work at the same time which was hard! My class got super excited when we scored,” she recalled.

A big fan of international soccer and a soccer player himself, Ezra Granet (‘25) said classmates were watching the game and giving updates on the score. “Seeing my home country have a chance to advance was pretty exciting considering they haven’t done well in past World Cups,” he said. 

Yet, some students felt that the recent controversies surrounding the World Cup added a sinister undertone to the exciting event. With the host country being Qatar, international relations, tensions, and world problems became a side-show or even a main attraction to the game itself.

“I don’t usually see soccer as a stage for tension; however, there definitely was something brewing in the stadium and in the news,” Thomas noted. One of the many controversies include the banning of OneLove armbands by Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The armbands’ pride-flag patterned heart emblem symbolizes support of the LGBTQ+ community.  The OneLove movement was created by the Netherlands in 2020; nine other countries, including England, are also a part of the campaign. The English Football Association (FA) said that the campaign aimed to “send a message against discrimination of any kind as the eyes of the world fall on the global game.”

Qatar’s policies are relatively conservative and do not approve of homosexuality. One law prohibits same sex intercourse with a penalty of up  to 7 years in prison, according to an article from NPR. FIFA decreed that players could receive yellow cards if seen wearing the armbands. 

Dismayed by this result, Ezra said that he “was a bit disappointed that one of my favorite players, Harry Kane, did not wear his rainbow armband because of the risk of getting a yellow card.”

Also, according to the Guardian, the exploitative treatment of migrant workers was also a source of controversy. In 2021, they reported that, since being chosen to host the World Cup in 2010, more than 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh have died in Qatar.  

It isn’t just comradery between people supporting one team, but between the whole world.

— Lisbon Ziegler ('23)

 “I believe that the controversies in Qatar make this World Cup one of the worst ever,” Thomas said, “the overall political tension brought soccer away from this World Cup.”

Lisbon agreed, writing Issue #61 in the Daily Urinal on the topic. She feels that sports and politics should not intersect.  “Sports are supposed to be a place of refuge from politics. They are a place where distinct groups of people can unify under one cause, a feat super rare in today’s society,” she said. 

However, despite all of the controversies that come with an international platform, other students felt that the essence of the game was not diminished: two countries’ soccer teams battling head-to-head in a competition for glory. 

“Everything was about the competitive nature between the players and the love for the game,” Ezra felt. Ezra especially admired when Antonee Robinson, a U.S Men’s Soccer player, comforted crying Iranian players after the game.

As the World Cup bracket starts to narrow in size, the excitement is still building. Will Messi finally get a World Cup title and cement himself as a Greatest of All Time (GOAT)? Who will come out on top? 

Although the United States was eliminated by the Netherlands in the knockout round on December 3, many students still have teams they are rooting for. Lainie put her bets behind England.  “I like watching the style of soccer they play and they have some very talented and entertaining players to watch,” she said. “I think that they have a pretty high chance to win it all,” she added. Ezra agreed with Lainie, but thinks that since both Messi and Ronaldo want to win their last World Cup, an “Argentina versus Portugal World Cup final would be legendary.” Although England and Portugal were both eliminated, Argentina still stands along with Croatia, France, and Morocco. 

Lisbon wants Argentina, led by star Lionel Messi, to win. This will likely be Messi and many other stars, such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar’s da Silva Santos Júnior’s, last World Cup. “Messi has captured the hearts of many with his humble attitude, magician-like skills, and unparalleled creativity on the field,” she said. 

Whether you watch out for patriotism, your favorite players, or the game itself, we all have something in common: enjoying the sport of football (or soccer) by watching the World Cup. As Lisbon said, “It isn’t just comradery between people supporting one team, but between the whole world.”