Let me start off by mentioning that the country that I am living in (Ecuador) did not qualify for this year’s World Cup. That being said, talk of soccer is still heavily present in every conversation and every inch of this country. If there’s not a game being played at the time, there will be conversations surrounding yesterday’s unbelievable game, or the anticipation for tomorrow’s game.
Got somewhere to go? You don’t even have to worry about missing the game when you leave the house, because it will be broadcasted on the radio in the car on your way over. And I can say with certainty that it is being shown at your destination. If there is a television showing the World Cup, you will find people flocking to watch, even if they are not customers. Everyone is invited to take part. And surprisingly, I have never seen anyone turned away from watching even without a purchase.
“It has become acceptable to take a two hour lunch break for the
1 p.m. game. And if you get to work late because the game went to overtime, I am sure no one would blame you.”
When deciding whether or not to engage in conversation with a local about the World Cup, be cautious. These conversations go far more in depth than one would assume. In the United States, my knowledge of international soccer is very respectable. I know the rules of the game, recent world cup winners, some star players, etc.
Here, in contrast, I feel like I was born yesterday. To engage in meaningful World Cup conversation, you need to know nothing short of the team’s history, 90 percent of the players on each team, the player’s 20 nicknames, how much they weigh and their favorite food. Anything less means you’re obviously not a real fan.
About half of the games are played during the mid-morning. If it is an extremely important game, you might be invited to stay home to watch and come into work a little late. Otherwise, where there is usually music being played on the office radio, there is the game being transmitted. The second half of games are played around lunchtime, which is extremely convenient for everyone at work. It has become acceptable to take a two hour lunch break for the 1 p.m. game. And if you get to work late because the game went to overtime, I am sure no one would blame you.
Generally, the people here tend to root for the fellow Latin American countries that did qualify for the tournament. When I say root for, I mean invest their heart and soul into whatever Latin American team is left … including tears of relief, anger, sadness, etc.
The beauty about this, at least to me, is that all opinions about the team’s country go out the window, and what is left is a simple love for soccer. Forget what people here think about Colombia, Ecuadorians will root for them in the World Cup until the end. Politics, history, the current state of the economy are all forgotten for the duration of a magical month.
And this has shown more cultural strength and camaraderie than I have ever seen in the United States.
Andrea Escobar is an international business senior. She is completing a two-month summer marketing internship with an ecotourism company in Quito, Ecuador.
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