Accessibility links


Ethnic and Immigrant New Yorkers Get World Cup Fever

  • Adam Phillips

Croatian fans react to being behind late in the opening soccer match of the 2014 World Cup in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, June 12, 2014.

Croatian fans react to being behind late in the opening soccer match of the 2014 World Cup in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, June 12, 2014.

New York City is home to ethnic and immigrant communities that have a loud and spirited stake in a World Cup victory for their national soccer teams.

During Game One of the FIFA World Cup 2014 Miss Favela, a Brazilian bar in Brooklyn, was packed with Brazilian-Americans and expats rooting for a goal against Croatia. It was not long in coming.

At halftime, Juliana Marcussi smiled approvingly as some countrymen climbed on tables to dance. She said more than mere sport was at work in the revelry.

“It’s sort of a religion for Brazilians. It represents our faith in our country. Even if you are having troubles as we are having right now back there, you still believe in it because it’s part of you,” said Marcussi.

The next day, at Tortilleria Nixtamal, a Mexican restaurant in Queens, waitress Marilyn Estrada was ecstatic that her country had just defeated Cameroon.

"I feel really, really happy because we won our first game in the FIFA World Cup, one-zero, so that's exciting. It represents Mexico as a strong country. We could win. We could win this World Cup. We could go all the way," said Nixtamal.

Soon, two Mexican-American friends, Pedro and Diego, were riding a subway “all the way” into Manhattan to watch Spain play the Netherlands, while savoring Mexico’s victory.

”The best moment was when we got that goal, that definite score. Given that we already had some chances and we couldn’t get it in there, and we got the job done. Luckily, the goalie saved us. We were about to get scored on, and he flew in the air,” recalled Pedro.

It was beer and bratwurst at Loreley, a Brauhaus-style biergarten, where a mostly German crowd had just watched its national team score yet another goal against Portugal. Cologne-born Michael Momm owns the place and was delighted by this.

"Fantastic. Even better than I expected. Germany is always nervous before we start. But definitely we are a championship team. We always rise to the occasion," said Momm.

Nicole Weik, a Berliner, sat nearby. She wore a white German football jersey adorned with three stars - one for each World Cup championship win.

"Right now we are here to get our fourth star. As Germans, we are quivering for each game. We have to watch every game, even though we are on vacation. Deutschland Vor. Noch ein Tor (Go Germany. Get a goal!)," she shouted.

Stephen Gelardi, Nicole’s American husband, seemed similarly "pro-Deutsch."

“In a couple of weeks, when they play the U.S., I will be on the other side of the rooting team. But it’s great to be fans with both teams. It’s little way of building a community for a very short period time - essentially the 90-minute duration of the game; but, everyone is like one family at that time, just enjoying the games,” said Gelardi.

There are dozens of games left to enjoy before the FIFA World Cup 2014 ends in mid-July, yet, given the joy these many national groups in this most international of cities are expressing, a non-partisan might well wish them all success.