By David Yagudayev, Science Editor
Last December, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar took Yeshiva University by storm. During games, YU Wilf students packed Rubin Hall Lounge to watch the game unfold. World cup games were displayed all over campus–whether at eateries like Grandma’s Pizza or Burgers and Grill–or within YU buildings, games were constantly streamed during the November-December month of World-Cup action.
Qatar’s controversial World Cup featured all types of sporting tropes, from underdog victories to tense games with penalty shootouts. It was also likely Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Modric’s final WorldCcup, as the legendary players age and finish off their illustrious careers in football, which made it especially special to watch as all aimed to win their first title representing their countries.
As the tournament progressed from the group to the knockout stages, seasoned football spectators, international students supporting their country, and those who never watched the game huddled around the small TV in Rubin Hall’s lounge to watch the action unfold.
After finishing BMP shiur at 12:55pm, I would rush to the Caf to get lunch and head upstairs to watch a small portion of the games in the lounge. Most games were charged, and the room often became silent and strained when games went to extra time and subsequently penalty shootout. A few friends and I watched in awe as Croatia beat Japan on penalties and later beat the behemoth Brazil, ending Neymar’s dream. We were consequently shocked when Morocco beat Spain and Portugal with amazing poise and world-class defensive plays.
In the end, Lionel Messi and Argentina won the title against France’s Kylian Mbappe, in incredible fashion. After losing the final in 2014 to Germany, Messi came back eight years later determined to give it his all for the last time. The game was the craziest and most emotional I, and many other YU students, have witnessed, featuring the battle between the rising young star Mbappe against the legendary Messi.
The nostalgia surrounding the “little boy from Rosario, Argentina” and his trials and tribulations with the Argentinian National Team, losing the 2014 World-Cup Final, 2015 Copa-America Final, 2016 Copa-America Final, the 2018 World Cup, and at one point quitting the National Team, laid the stage for possibly the greatest character development of a player in World Cup history. The game did not disappoint, featuring a two point deficit equalizer by Mbappe in the second half and two goals in Extra Time, which led to penalties. Despite all the pressure, Messi and Co. remained composed and won the title for their country, its first World Cup win since Maradona captained Argentina to glory in 1986.
Although European football is not the most popular sport in America, and most YU students have never watched a game in their life, this World Cup attracted many spectators, and created moments I would have never thought to witness on campus.
With America quickly developing the MLS, and hosting the World Cup in 2026 in a joint-bid with Mexico and Canada, there is no doubt that future YU students will be even more consumed with the World-Cup action. In the meantime, Rubin Hall prepares for March Madness.