In JRC 101 and beyond, students unite to support home countries in World Cup print

Taylor Nunley, Staff Writer

After four long years, domestic and international students once again joined in rooting for their favorite teams in the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world. The 2022 World Cup officially began on Sunday, Nov. 20, with host country Qatar and Ecuador’s match. It will run until Dec. 18, when one country out of 32 will be crowned the world champion. 

Students, faculty and staff met in the Joe Rosenfield Center (JRC) room 101 from the week of Nov. 21 to 27 to watch the games in a designated shared environment — the College discouraged students from watching in both the Humanities and Social Studies Center and Noyce Science Center, saying these buildings are primarily used for academic purposes.

Grinnell students had no trouble finding a place to watch the tournament, though, as watch parties were held all across campus. 

Miles Brown `26, who watched the United States’ games against Wales and Iran with a group of friends in the Dibble Hall lounge, said the World Cup was very different from the American sports he is used to watching. “Both games I felt the same, just sheer terror for 90 minutes,” he said. “I was kept on the edge of my seat the entire time because with it only being a one-point difference, things can change with the kick of a goal. In the end, America prevailed, though, and with it I was happy.” 

After the U.S. team’s victories, Brown remarked on his and his friends’s shared sense of pride in their country. “Regardless of our state, we all came together in Iowa and got to watch the big game. It was really inspiring.” 

Jonathan Kellogg `23, a student from the Netherlands, said he is excited to see his country compete in the tournament again. In the 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands did not qualify. “The last time I saw the Netherlands playing the World Cup, I was 12 or 13,” he said. 

Kellogg visited JRC 101 to watch World Cup matches a few times while it was open for viewing. He said that each time he visited, not many other students were present. He predicted that will change with the Netherlands match against the U.S. on Saturday, Dec. 3. “No one really cares about the best games, which is going to change in the next one, because that’s the Netherlands versus the U.S., which I find exciting. At the same time, if we lose, I’m confronted by everyone being happy, but if we win, everyone is going to be mad at me.” 

The Netherlands has made three World Cup final appearances, yet has never managed to take home the title of world champions. Kellogg said he does not think their record will change this year. “We’ve not been playing so well,” he said. Kellogg said he predicts that the Netherlands will get to the quarterfinals — “the semifinals if we’re really lucky,” he said.

Kellogg remains optimistic at the possibility of defeat though. “But we’re here. We didn’t qualify last time. Our team is not looking bad, which is already great, so I am just feeling happy about being here,” he said. “I’m just hoping we can take the U.S.”

Scott Lee `26 is rooting for both the U.S. and South Korea. He said rooting for two teams allows him the chance to have a backup in case one does not perform well. 

Lee also expressed his belief in there always being a country that fares far better than predicted. “Every time it’s held, there’s a Cinderella country, and I’m curious to see who it’s going to be this year. So far, I would definitely have to say it’s the U.S. It’s very surprising that they haven’t lost so far,” he said. 

Noor Yahyaoui `25, an international student from Morocco, said she loves the community aspect of the World Cup at Grinnell, especially among international students. “I love the spirit that’s going on around school. All my international friends are supporting their teams, and it’s very beautiful and wholesome. It’s like a supportive outlet where we all come together. We leave politics aside, and you see everyone from around the world coming together,” she said. 

Yahyaoui, who cheers on her home country’s team, watches the games with her friends and, on occasion, with her parents over video call. She said the World Cup is treated like a celebration in Morocco where “everyone goes out into the streets” and school is canceled. “It’s a very supportive community we build around sports where we all connect to home and with our people,” she said. 

This past Saturday, Dec. 3, and Sunday, Dec. 4, eight teams faced each other in the knockout stage. On Monday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 6, the remaining eight teams will face their opponents and the winners will progress to the quarter-finals, the first of which will be held this coming Friday, Dec. 9.