In 2005, I moved from Amsterdam to San Francisco. This year, was the second time I experienced the World Cup while living in the US and it was quite different from four years ago. Four years ago, I would have missed the whole event if I hadn’t gone looking for it. Now, it’s clearly in the mainstream media. Besides the fact that the U.S. had a better team and won some games, there were a few other reasons why this soccer tournament was more popular.
Probably, the main reason for all the media coverage this year is the fact that ESPN bought the rights to all the games this year. Four years ago, only the Spanish language Univision had the right to broadcast the games in the US. On top of that, FIFA, International Federation of Association Football (aka soccer) has been promoting the sport heavily in America.
Another big difference with the 2006 World Cup was social media. On the first day of World Cup, Twitter went down more than once because around the world people were talking about it. Americans were automatically part of this global conversation. On Facebook I saw many of my friends in the U.S. post about the World Cup as well. It was fun to see who was rooting for which team.
The World Cup was alive in the Bay Area! Many of my friends seemed genuinely interested in the games and were watching them at home and in bars. It makes sense. If I look at the people who live here, many of them are like me: they moved here from other countries, or their parents did. Everyone was rooting for their own team without a sense of rivalry. The fact that we were all interested in the World Cup rather bonded us. It’s one of the things that makes the Bay Area great and unique.
It made the World Cup 2010 more fun for me. As the Netherlands progressed and kept winning games, my friends were rooting for me and my team. On my Facebook wall, my friends put “Go Orange”, which gradually changed to “Hup Holland hup” as they figured out that’s how we cheer on our team in Dutch.
This all came to an epiphany on July 11, the day of the finals when Spain won from The Netherlands. The City of San Francisco had put up a couple of big screens at the Civic Center and hundreds came out in the colors of the two countries. And even though my team lost that day, it was an amazing experience.