As the World Cup begins, Qatar is the focus of soccer fans’ attention. But it’s not always clear in the United States which side will get support from a distance.
The fact that you are not a “typical” soccer fan in the United States is one of the oddities of being one here, you see.
The World Cup transforms into an occasion for national identity affirmation for many countries’ fans. Cultural analyst Laurent Dubois points out that this is true even among followers who are neither jingoistic or patriotic in other settings.
Indeed, the nationalist zeal that arises in crowds has the potential to escalate into violent xenophobia on a global scale. English soccer fans in the late 20th century, according to famous soccer historian David Goldblatt, displayed a “essential xenophobia” that was “slightly more intense than the foreign policy of the most Europhobic administration since the Second World War.”
However, the experience might be completely different for Americans. We Americans sometimes find ourselves strangely divided over which country we support in the international game due to factors such as soccer’s relatively low popularity compared to other sports, familiarity with foreign clubs, and perhaps more significantly (especially for Americans of Mexican heritage) an attachment to countries deemed to be more traditional “soccer nations.”