The American public is accustomed to football over the Thanksgiving holidays.
Yes, the NFL will be around again this year for Thanksgiving, but the world’s more popular version of football also takes center stage with the start of the globe’s most popular sporting event, soccer’s World Cup. The tournament begins Sunday, November 20, when host nation Qatar plays Ecuador and continues through December 18 with 64 total matches.
The US team returns to the finals for the first time since 2014 after missing the tournament in Russia in 2018, and soccer fans around the DC area will fill pubs to cheer on the Stars and Stripes.
But DC is filled with international residents, and colors of the 32 nations from Argentina to Tunisia should be seen throughout the city.
The joy of sports, however, often comes from finding a rooting interest. Maybe you’re searching for a team to cheer on or an underdog to support. Perhaps your country didn’t qualify for the finals, or you just want to get lost in the spectacle of the World Cup. We asked some American University international students why you should jump on their nation’s bandwagon for the World Cup.
Federica Turina Dellamaggiore, Argentina, CAS/BA ‘25
I think people should pull for Argentina because we are the best country in America, not only soccer-wise — we are American Cup champions — but also because we have the best fans in the world, the best meat, and our delicious dulce de leche. The Qatar stadiums will be painted light blue and white. Argentinian fans will do whatever in their power to see star player Lionel Messi's last World Cup. A lot of people are going to travel to Qatar to see the World Cup live. The power of the people, the fans, will make this team win the World Cup. We have the best passion and love for the sport. If you want to win a bet, pull for Argentina, you won't regret it.
Argentina plays Saudi Arabia (11/22, 5 a.m.); Mexico (11/26, 2 p.m.); Poland (11/30, 2 p.m.)
Jimena Fernandez, Costa Rica, CAS/MA ’24
You should support Costa Rica in the World Cup because even though the world was doubting their abilities in Brazil in 2014, they proved everyone wrong. They play with integrity and with passion and put everything out there to make their people proud. They also have the best goalkeeper in the world, Keylor Navas. Additionally, Costa Rica is a beautiful country with amazing nature. Its people are kind and “pura vida.”
Costa Rica plays Spain (11/23, 11 a.m.); Japan (11/27, 5 a.m.); Germany (12/1, 2 p.m.
Kevin Marful, Ghana, WCL/LLM ’23
I think we can win because we have a young team that is ready to prove themselves to the world. We have the addition of Inaki Williams to our team, our attackers are sharp and can bite any defense we meet. In the midfield we have a very good player in Thomas Partey who is one of the best midfielders in the world. We also have “no nonsense” defenders who don't take chances and leave any space for the opposition.
Uruguay plays Portugal (11/24, 11 a.m.); South Korea (11/28, 8 a.m.); Uruguay (12/2, 10 a.m.)
Stefano Musetti, Uruguay, Kogod/MA ’23
I would argue that the best country for cheering is Uruguay. The first World Cup champions in history, we had the miracle of soccer. A country with a population of only 3 million people, we have won two world cups (1930-1950) and we are the king of America with 15 America Cups won.
Our rebellious and libertarian origins have always led us to raise our standards in every aspect to compete with the rest of the continent. We not only hold the highest ratio of won cups per capita but we have created a model to educate young generations through soccer.
Finally, Uruguay has positioned itself as a lighthouse in the region. Stable institutions, respect for the rule of law, highest GDP per capita in South America, peaceful power transitions and one of the countries that attracts more foreign investment in the world. These are some of the reasons why, with Argentina and Paraguay, we are betting for being the hosts of the 2030 World Cup edition, honoring the 100 years since the first World Cup.
Uruguay plays South Korea (11/24, 8 a.m.); Portugal (11/28, 2 p.m.); Ghana (12/2, 10 a.m.)
Oliver Arandia, Mexico, Kogod/BS '25
When it comes to supporting a country in the World Cup, I would normally endorse you to support your own nation, but a team that needs more support than ever is Mexico.
Mexico has everything against them, a not-so-competitive squad, an inept coach, locker room problems, and ugly looking logo. But Mexico is also one of the most vibrant and exciting teams to watch as they tend to surprise the world (either for good or bad). The fans are electric, the jersey is a beautiful mix between old and new, and the team that always comes with doubts. Mexico is facing its biggest bogeyman this World Cup (Argentina) — the history between both nations is one full of great games and memorable moments — and who doesn't like an underdog story?
Mexico plays Poland (11/22, 11 a.m.); Argentina (11/26, 2 p.m.); Saudi Arabia (11/30, 2 p.m.)
Maria Cordovez, Ecuador
When it comes to the World Cup, Ecuador’s participation has been very limited with the country only qualifying four times in its history, 2002, 2006, 2014, and 2022. This is why our qualification this year has been such a meaningful event for us. I can’t say that we are a great soccer team, because quite frankly, we aren’t the strongest team, but seeing the passion that runs through my small country every single time the World Cup is mentioned fills me with pride. My country is special, I have mentioned multiple times the beautiful aspects that make my country worth visiting, knowing, and supporting. It’s such a rich country, we have everything, beaches, jungles, mountains, and even the world-known Galapagos islands, where Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution. I love driving to the beach during holidays or riding on tiny boats called “pangas” deep into the jungle and seeing all the amazing natural reserves. I have met some incredible people who are always willing to help, guide you, tell you stories, share their culture, and teach you how diverse and beautiful our little country can be. I have learned the importance of the tiniest actions and how much they can impact the people around you.
Ecuador plays Qatar (11/20, 11 a.m.); Netherlands (11/25, 11 a.m.); Senegal (11/29, 10 a.m.)