Campus hosts own version of soccer World Cup

By Kevin Spitz

It is much agreed upon that the greatest event worldwide is the FIFA World Cup. Put on every four years, the spectacle is enjoyed by more people the world over than any other event.

Luckily, on our very own campus we are able to enjoy the World Cup every semester, even if it is on a much smaller scale. Starting tomorrow night at CRCE, one of the most innovative programs on campus is set to take place. The sixth installation of the Indoor Soccer World Cup will be held by International Student and Scholar Services. The tournament takes up the majority of the weekend and is held in the Multi-Activity Court gym.

Teams from around the world such as India, Spain, Japan and Colombia compete first in group play and then in tournament play for the chance to win the coveted World Cup trophy.

Since it began in fall 2005, Turkey has won four of the five times it has been held, while India won the other time. But regardless of who wins, competition rages over 30 hours during the weekend’s games.

I have been very fortunate to have been a referee for this tournament since it first began in fall 2005 and have always felt that very few things other than this tournament bring together such a diverse crowd.

As I have said before, sports can be so much more than just entertainment or a good workout. Sports bring communities together. Sports allow people who would never have met each other to interact, become friends and learn a little bit about each other.

Of course, there are certain instances on this campus where this sort of education about one another is spontaneous. And certainly there are other events run by the University that force to the forefront the issues of diversity. But while this event may bring diversity to the foreground, it is done in a setting where all parties are welcomed. I am convinced there are very few other places on campus where people can outwardly celebrate to one another that they represent the country of Iran or Cuba.

That’s another great part of the tournament, though. Much like in the FIFA World Cup, participants in the Indoor World Cup celebrate not only their own accomplishments but that of their nation as well. Before late round tournament matches, everyone stands at attention while each country’s national anthem is played. They drape flags of their respective nations around themselves and some countries have great cheering sections doing chants from their native lands.

All this patriotism creates a great atmosphere that is not anywhere near matched in intramurals. Yes, sometimes a team in an intramural game will get a pretty large following, but there’s not that same pride for something bigger than their team or the entire sport like there is in this event. There is a certain purity of sports when it comes to the Indoor World Cup.

It should not be said, though, that everything is perfect or that everyone gets along during the event. In games I have officiated, I’ve seen players do some pretty hard fouls on one another, swear at each other and almost go as far as try to take a swing at one another. People have cussed me out after a game and they’ve told me that I am the worst person on Earth, but that is certainly a minority of the time. For the most part, everyone is appreciative that there is an outlet like this for sports on campus.

So I encourage all students, faculty and community members alike in Champaign-Urbana to come out this weekend to CRCE and experience firsthand the Indoor World Cup Tournament. Experience the atmosphere and see what I mean. Those who show up can be a part of what makes this event so great. And then next semester you can form your own team and compete for whatever country represents you.

Kevin Spitz is a senior in Engineering. He can be reached at [email protected]