For the first time since 2014, the United States men’s national soccer team is competing in the World Cup, and USC students and businesses are gearing up to watch later this month..
Every four years, the worldwide soccer tournament brings together national soccer teams and superstars to compete. This year, the series will be held in Qatar from November 20 to December 18.
The competition saw underwhelming viewership in the U.S. with an average of 4.6 million viewers tuning in per game from Fox and Telemundo during the most recent 2018 tournament, a decline in viewership from the 2014 tournament. Viewership for this tournament, however, could see an increase because the U.S. is once again competing. Here on campus, fans can gather and watch the competition with their peers.
Local bars and restaurants alike will open doors to students who hope to catch the games live. Alberto Cruz, manager of the 901 Bar and Grill on Figueroa Street, hopes to televise the World Cup and is considering special operational hours for the big tournament.
“Most likely the earliest we would have it [open] would be for 10 a.m. games,” Cruz said. “It really depends on the game and the importance of it. If it’s a big soccer game, we will try our best to be open for the community.”
The World Cup can be watched at home as well. Students can live stream games using free trials on Peacock, Fubo and SlingTV. Free replays can be found on Tubi TV. Other popular services like ESPN+ and the cable network Fox sports offer premium coverage.
Students at USC said they are excited to root for teams ranging from the United States to Spain, Germany and Brazil. One of these students is Mario Jauregui Jr., a junior majoring in business administration and a member of the USC men’s soccer club. “Soccer to me is a lifestyle, and this is the biggest display of the culture of soccer in the world,” Jauregui said. He will be rooting for Mexico and the U.S.
Jake Silverman, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and economics and another member of the men’s soccer club, also plans to watch the World Cup over Thanksgiving break, cheering on the U.S. and Portugal.
“I’m going to watch the World Cup because it’s the competition where the players are most connected with their fans, so the matches are filled with passion and intensity,” Silverman said.
Of the 50 students polled by Annenberg Media near the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, 52% plan on watching the tournament and 55% of students will support teams besides the U.S.
Fans of soccer can expect this year to bring in an increase of viewership in the U.S. from the disappointing 2018 campaign. With the U.S. earning a spot in the World Cup and a chance at redemption, the hype around the prestigious event seems to be greater than in recent years.