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‘It’s kind of a big deal’: Queens residents’ soccer fandom on display during World Cup tournament

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Numerous Morocco fans turned out in Astoria on Dec. 14 to watch their semifinal match against France. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

Many sports fans view the World Cup as the most important sporting event in the world. While it is generally believed that soccer isn’t as popular in the United States compared to the rest of the world, the diverse population of Queens helps to bring that passion and excitement for the sport here.

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Numerous Morocco fans turned out in Astoria on Dec. 14 to watch their semifinal match against France. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

There have been a number of bars and restaurants in New York City that have been holding watch parties, including quite a few in Queens. Dozens of people headed to Astoria’s Pig Beach BBQ in the early afternoon on Tuesday, Dec. 13, in anticipation of the semifinal match between Argentina and Croatia. Fans there like Diego Medina and Daniel Rosini were excited to see their teams face off in the semifinals.

“[The World Cup] is a big deal in my eyes,” Medina said. “A lot of these players I grew up watching when I was younger. It means a lot to me right now because these are some of their last moments. [Lionel] Messi’s about to retire, [Luka] Modrić, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, all the legendary players. It’s kind of a big deal for me to watch this.”

Medina said he has already attended a few watch parties throughout this year’s World Cup. He had gone to numerous bars and restaurants across Steinway Street in Astoria to do so.

According to Medina, soccer has been his favorite sport for as long as he could remember. He recalls playing on a soccer team as early as five years of age. His family is also full of soccer fans.

“For me, the World Cup is about pride,” Rosini said. “Soccer in general is a very universal sport. And since Queens is very diverse, this brings everyone together on days like today.”

Rosini said he went to Pig Beach BBQ on numerous occasions during the 2018 World Cup to watch matches. He feels these watch parties make for a great experience, no matter who each person is rooting for.

As one of the most diverse places in the United States, Queens has had people rooting for just about every team throughout the World Cup. Even after the United States was eliminated Dec. 3, there were still numerous people keeping an invested interest. Whether it’s rooting for the team they share a heritage with or the team represents the country they were born in, there are plenty of Queens natives packing bars and restaurants like Pig Beach BBQ to watch and cheer for their teams.

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Photo by Adrian Childress
“I was on Steinway when Morocco won [Dec. 10] and it was so fun to watch the celebration,” Queens resident Elena Toum Kamp said. “I think the diversity in Queens plus the growing interest in soccer in the U.S. generally speaking helps too!”

The amount of fans meeting up to watch the game together has grown so large in some areas of Queens that it’s affected traffic. According to one Bayside resident, so many people showed up at establishments on and around Northern Boulevard recently that multiple surrounding streets were closed off.

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Photo by Adrian Childress

“Queens is the most ethnically diverse of the boroughs,” Bayside resident Michele Dell’Anno said. “This is an international game. With so many immigrants and non-immigrants of so many backgrounds, people follow soccer! This is beyond exciting!”

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Photo by Adrian Childress

Messi’s Argentina defeated Modrić’s Croatia 3-0 Tuesday to advance to the World Cup Final, which is scheduled to take place Sunday, Dec. 18 at 10 a.m. Argentina will face off against Kylian Mbappe’s France, who ended Morocco’s stunning World Cup run Wednesday, defeating them 2-0. 

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