World cup hype kicks off


Every four years, teams from nations all over the world pick the players from their countries who perform best in leagues around the world and attempt to qualify for and eventually win the World Cup. Players typically consider the lifting of the famed trophy to be the peak of their careers, so with this event coming up this summer and all of the participating teams decided, people are getting excited about the World Cup.

There are some particularly notable teams who qualified for this World Cup and some teams who did not. For the good, we have Egypt. For the first time time in 24 years they managed to qualify for the World Cup tournament, a feat that has had the soccer world buzzing ever since. With the emergence of Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, arguably one of the quickest players in the world right now, Egypt has managed to beat the odds and make the tournament. The bad is Italy. For the first time in 60 years, they failed to qualify for the World Cup. In the last national game of a legendary career, 2006 World Cup champion and 20 year Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon played his final game for the Italian national team in second-leg fixture that ended up as a tie. Because Sweden had won the first leg, Italy lost on aggregate and the ending to Gigi’s legendary career was the game that kept them out of this prestigious tournament. For the ugly, we have our very own USA. With Hershey, Pennsylvania’s hottest export since chocolate in Christian Pulisic helming the national team, the US had never had a better chance to go far in this World Cup. That is, if we could have just beaten or even tied Trinidad.

Freshman Juan Bajana is very interested in the world of soccer and is extremely excited for the upcoming World Cup. He has been following the World Cup qualifiers ever since they began.

“The USA was never going to go very far even if they did make it, in my opinion,” Bajan said. “If you’re a supposedly top-notch team at your best form but you’re losing two nil to Costa Rica, playing against the likes of Germany, Portugal and France is just going to be embarrassing.”

Something particularly unique about this World Cup is what has happened to the leaders of the soccer world, FIFA, since the last World Cup in 2014. The 2015 corruption scandal involved several top FIFA officials, including FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who partook in years of bribery to do things such as rig the selection of World Cup location, rig group stage drawings that decided who played who in the group stages of major tournaments, and much more. In 2015 the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch conducted an investigation and eventual raid of the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, exposing nearly everything that FIFA was responsible for, and painting a horrid picture for the corporation that runs the world’s game. Whether or not that will have an affect on this World Cup, the first since the scandal, is yet to be seen.

Senior William Moulec is very experienced in the soccer scene. As a former academy player and an adamant follower of the sport, Moulec is well aware of what can happen behind the scenes and has thoughts on how this scandal might affect this upcoming World Cup.

“I think that there’s a lot of well-deserved skepticism that is going to go around throughout this entire tournament. Every little decision, from the referees to the group stage drawing, is going to be questioned by more people than ever,” Moulec said.

On Friday, December 1 of this year, those seven groups that will be duking it out to make the intense knockout stage were decided by random drawing. While fair groups are what a lot of people want, everything is left to chance and anything can happen. Three of the tournament favorites, Germany, Argentina, and Brazil were blessed with three of the easiest groups. Germany’s matchup has their best opponent being Mexico. Yes they have been known to pass group stages, but given that two teams can make it out of each group the remaining two teams, Sweden and Korea, stand little chance. Argentina’s best opponent is Croatia, who really only has the ageing Mario Mandzukic and Real Madrid star Luca Modric as assets. This isn’t going to be much against the Argentinian god, Lionel Messi. Brazil is by far the worst case of these unbalanced groups, with their best opponent being Switzerland or Costa Rica because they’re both pretty bad, and Serbia is definitely not going to do very well compared to them. Considering all of this, the fact that there’s a group comprising of Poland, Senegal, Colombia, and Japan makes people wish that some redistributing could be done.

Senior Yoel Popovici has been an adamant soccer fan for as long as he can remember. Hailing from Peru, he doesn’t really care that the US didn’t qualify because his main country did. With such close proximity to Brazil and Argentina, he does get annoyed when they succeed, but even he can’t hate on a good show of skill on the football pitch.

“I mean, Brazil was already going to do well in the group stages, but now it’s just going to be a Neymar show. I’m pretty excited to watch him go against such scrubs,” Popovici said.