JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens (PIX11)– Whenever the FIFA World Cup comes around, soccer fans go crazy over the prospect of their team surging through the 32-team tournament and becoming a world champion.
For the devoted members of the religion of soccer in Jackson Heights, Queens, the beginning of the Cup is the most optimistic moment.
Edwin Perez, a student from Cali, Colombia, said his country will do well without their injured star striker, Radamel Falcao.
“I think Colombia doesn’t limit itself to just one player,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s sad he can’t play but I’m confident in the rest of the team and I hope the experience of them missing out the last couple of world tournaments will propel them forward as motivation.”
Others are concerned about the politics involved with the Cup. Livia Paula and Mariana Silva each hail from different parts of Brazil, but are disappointed with the how Brazil is using money FIFA provided for the World Cup.
“I’m going to cheer for Brazil to win it all, but everything our government has done in order to accommodate the Cup has disgusted me,” Paula, a hostess at Bryant Park Grill said. She feels the government should spend that money on things like social programs.
Silva also shared a similar sentiment, bashing her country’s priorities.
“I feel very strongly about this,” Silva said. “They’re not really helping the Brazilian people.”
Gloria Martinez, who is an owner of Thomas Pizza in Jackson Heights, says the tournament is more about the “movement of money” than anything else.
Her husband Pedro, on the other hand, was focused on the entertainment aspect of the game and has high hopes for his national futbol squad.
“Mexico will be champion this year,” he said. “It’s about time.”
Victor Dutan, a cook for La Picada Azyaya, is rooting for his native Ecuador in the World Cup.
“They usually don’t play well in first couple of games,” he said. “They need to address that in order to advance in the World Cup.”
Only time will tell if these predictions come true.
The first game of the World Cup starts with Brazil v. Croatia on Thursday at 4 p.m.