The Greatest Show on Turf

The MN community comes together over the World Cup


Grace Evert, Staff Writer

When someone mentions the world’s biggest soccer tournament, there is only one name that comes to mind, the Fifa World Cup. It is easy to picture the bright white lines painted on a green field so large it makes players look like action figures.

However, the only thing bigger than the World Cup field itself is the fanbase. With over 4 billion viewers, the World Cup makes soccer the most-watched sport in the world. 
MN is home to many World Cup fans who have helped foster excitement for the tournament at school. Junior Mateo Rens is one of these superfans.

“I was raised in a Hispanic family, and soccer was really important to us. In 2014, I became really invested in the World Cup and started watching all the games,” Rens said.

One of Rens’ World Cup traditions is collecting stickers of players from different teams. He started doing this when he lived in Peru.

“Since the World Cup is really big in Peru, everyone at my school collected stickers, so that feeling of fitting in and supporting your team and country really got me hooked on the World Cup.”

Having lived outside of the United States, Rens can see the difference in how the World Cup is watched around the world.

“It’s not very common in the US, but it is very fun and entertaining. More Americans are beginning to see that supporting your country and culture puts you in a good mood.”

After qualifying, 32 teams participated in this year’s World Cup, however, that number will increase to 48 for the next World Cup.

“Every team has a chance to enter the World Cup. Literally, anyone can watch their team. The diversity of all different people from different countries participating in professional soccer is very interesting and entertaining,” Rens said.

In addition to student superfans, many teachers talked about and watched World Cup matches in their classrooms. 

“It’s a good chance for students to get to know the world outside the United States. It helps put things in perspective and make it a little more real,” French teacher Ryan Foehlinger said.

Foehlinger encouraged group discussions about the World Cup in his classroom and even filled out brackets with his students.

“Since more teachers are promoting the World Cup, more students are getting involved,” freshman Malachi Duran Schaefer said.

Deeper than the matches themselves, Foehlinger views  the World Cup as a way to bring different people from all over the world together.

“It’s a unifying presence going on in the world, where countries that are at conflict can put that aside. We all are playing the game together. Instead of just supporting a team that represents my state or city, I’m supporting a team that represents my country,” Foehlinger said.

Both Rens and Foehlinger shared that they have seen more students watching and talking about the World Cup this year than ever before.

“I have definitely seen an increased interest this year. I think it is because the US is in the World Cup this year, and they didn’t qualify four years ago. I also think more Americans are getting into soccer,” Foehlinger said.

Another contributing factor may be that the tournament was played in late fall due to Qatar’s extremely hot weather. The World Cup will take place in the summer as it normally does in 2026, which may decrease student involvement. However, no matter the sport, international competitions are valued by many.

“You have to put differences aside, it’s the US representing the US. It shows us that we all have something in common,” Foehlinger said.

Although fans won’t experience another World Cup for four years, each opportunity to watch athletes from around the world play soccer together on a big green field is a feeling that is always cherished.