Teshome M. Borago | PT Staff writer
As the World Cup progresses forward, New Yorkers are running out of favorite teams to support.
In a city like New York, where one can find a significant population of residents from countries all around the globe, the World Cup is always a major event. But with the locally favored national teams of the United States, Ireland, Italy, Ghana and Ecuador not even qualifying to this year’s tournament, 2018 was already one of the least anticipated World Cups in recent memory. Certainly, it has not been as lively as four years ago. These team absences have particularly affected the Bronx communities where such ethnic enclaves are found; from Little Italy at Arthur ave & Pelham; to Little Ireland in Woodlawn and the Ghanaian community of east Grand Concourse.
Nonetheless, some local immigrants from South America and Africa started backing their neighboring countries like Brazil, Senegal, Columbia and Mexico – who have qualified for the event. In NYC, there are various tight nit Brazilian and Senegalese communities while Mexican Americans are the fastest growing hispanic community in the Bronx. According to US Census 2010, the NYC and North NJ area also has the largest urban concentration of Colombians in the whole country.
In the beginning of the contest, Brazil and Mexico breezed thru easily but Columbia and Senegal had to face each other with the former barely advancing.
Far away from the Bronx is also a sizable Russian-American community in southern Brooklyn area of NYC, enjoying a rare success as the host nation; until their eventual downfall against the gritty Croatian club.
As for the local favorites MEXICO, their anticipated run was cut short, thanks to the great Brazilian footballer Neymar, who scored one goal and assisted on another. But the physical and emotional contest with Mexico put a heavy toll on the 145 pounder NEYMAR; as Belgium worn him down and the European media influenced the referees, disseminating a negative image of a foul-prone soft player. The referees seemed to buy that Neymar stereotype, as they ignored several cases of Belgian foul play, including a potential Penalty Kick for Brazil after Neymar was pushed while in the air during an attempted header. Thus, Brazil lost by one goal.
As the tournament winds to the finish line, New York fans are hoping the next World Cup will have more of the local favorites in 2022. Many local businesses and bars, especially the Italian, German and Irish pubs, are counting on it. The consensus among many sports analysts is that, both Italy and the United Stated missing out on a same World Cup again, is virtually impossible.