The effect of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on FIU

Jorge Corrales/Contributing Writer

 

If you’ve lived in the United States for a while, you’ve probably heard the following phrase: “Soccer will never make it here.”

Americans have been rooting against the beautiful game for as long as I’ve been a sports fan. They cite lack of scoring and slow paced matches as reasons.

In reality, American’s distaste for soccer can be traced back to one thing; lack of winning. As conceited as it sounds, Americans have always been winners. But, unfortunately, the United States Men’s National Soccer Team has not followed suit.

The US finished third in the 1930 World Cup. Since then, they have won only one knock out game (a 2-0 victory against Mexico in 2002.) And although the nation showed strong support for the USMNT during this World Cup, Americans may soon forget about soccer for another four years.

But the beauty about living in Miami is that we don’t adhere to what the rest of the nation does. Watching FIU students catch the World Cup fever was one of the most amazing things I have experienced in my time here.

Every June day, students donned their jerseys in support of their respective teams. On game days, the the GC hallways looked more like a sports bar than a University.

Students flocked to the GC Pit to try and catch the games on the mounted TV screens.

Those who were lucky enough got to use some of the few seats that were set up. But lack of seating wasn’t stopping anyone. For big matches, groups of students would stand or sit on the floor just to be a part of the experience.

“I did not stay to watch any full games there, but it was very cool to see a crowd of students gather up to support their favorite teams,” said Mario Santos, a senior Sports and Fitness major. “The World Cup seems to bring people together; everything else gets pushed aside.”

With the World Cup now over and the Germans holding the trophy, it’s time to see if the soccer craze at FIU will continue.

The FIU men’s soccer team kicks off their season on August 29 as the Panthers will face the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The Panthers look to improve on a 6-10-1 season in which they also lost their head coach.

The Panthers will have eight home games including: the home opener against Stetson on September 5th, and games against interstate rivals UCF and FAU in October.

The Panthers will be led by incoming head coach Scott Calabrese as they face a daunting schedule that features 6 teams that competed in last year’s NCAA. The hope is that students will carry their passion for soccer from the World Cup into Panthers’ home games.

“I think I will attend a couple of games this year,” said Devin Parra, a grad student majoring in higher education administration. ” I definitely think that the World Cup has given the FIU community a soccer craze, just going by how many people sit to watch the matches in the Graham Center. So I definitely think support for the FIU soccer team will grow, in part due to the popularity of the World Cup.”

Its no longer a question of whether soccer can make it to the states. This World Cup has shown us that soccer has arrived. There is just one lingering question: Is it here to stay?

 

-sports@fiusm.com

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