World Cup madness draws enthusiasts

Ken Eisinger

Attending a Major League Soccer game in Columbus, Ohio, is a far cry from going to a game in the United Arab Emirates, where Mohamed Aljaabari is from.
“At home, there are loads of people at the games,” said Aljaabari, a student at Kenyan College in Ohio and an employee in the University Pharmacy Department. “They drum certain songs and chants. They’re always on their feet.”
More than 350 area soccer enthusiasts repeatedly leapt to their feet Tuesday afternoon as they watched the World Cup semifinals at “World Cup Madness.”
Throwing their hands in the air and clasping their heads in consternation, the fans packed the Coffman Theater to watch Brazil narrowly defeat Holland 4-2 in penalty kicks. Fans stood in aisles and along the back wall of the humid room to watch the game projected on a huge screen.
Charles Wharram, a doctoral candidate in English, said he appreciates “World Cup Madness” as a good opportunity for international students to come together.
Wharram sat in front of a huge fan to root for Holland because he said they were the underdog and they play as a team.
As the teams traded attacks, fans leapt to their feet and shook their fists in the air as both teams tried to break the deadlock. A mid-game tie extended through two overtime periods and went to penalty shots before Brazil edged out Holland four penalty kicks to two.
Although international students made up much of the crowd, many American soccer fans also attended “World Cup madness.”
Nathan Lockwood, a first-year graduate student studying material science, cheeredfriends. for Holland with Lockwood,a nativeof Maplewood, said he thinks Americans aren’t generally enthusiastic about soccer because the sport receives so little exposure.
“If it weren’t for this, I probably wouldn’t be watching it,” he said.
Craig Wilkins, a doctoral candidate in cultural studies, watched from the television lounge outside Coffman Theater.
Wilkins said soccer’s continuous game play makes it unpopular in the United States. Unlike other U.S. sports, soccer is not segmented by quarters, innings or time-outs.
“Soccer isn’t divided to show commercials,” Wilkins said. “The networks are afraid to show it because they can’t generate revenue.”
At least one person in Coffman wasn’t infected by “World Cup Madness.”
Vivian Girand, a newspaper delivery person, passed by the television lounge during the second half. Girand, a native of France, said soccer doesn’t interest him.
Acknowledging the irony in his indifference to the sport’s global championships held in his homeland, he said, “I’m glad I’m away from there, it must be everywhere.”