American fans give up Thanksgiving to travel to World Cup


Hector Garcia’s family had a hard time understanding his decision to attend this year’s World Cup and forgo the annual gathering of 30 family and friends.

“This was supposed to be 40 years of cooking turkey, but I gave it up to be here. It’s been hard,” he said. I think, well, yes, it’s the World Cup. It’s not my fault they held it in the fall, winter.”

Garcia, 59, from Glendale Heights, Illinois, wore an Uncle Sam suit to address American fans who gathered on Sunday night. He said he had tickets to 28 of the 64 games at the fifth World Cup, following 1994, 2002, 2006 and 2018.

The change of the tournament from its usual June/July slot to November/December may have caused some American fans to skip the trip to Qatar. Others who are accustomed to turning summer vacations into soccer trips were unable to do the trekking because schools were open.

About 3,300 tickets were sold for Monday’s opener against Wales, 3,800 for Friday’s match against England and 3,100 for the final group stage match against Iran on November 29, according to the United States Soccer Federation. Also, conditional tickets for his stage knockout were sold. Around 2,100 in the round of 16, 1,100 in each of the quarterfinals and semifinals, 800 in the third-place match, and in the final on December 18, he had 1,500.

FIFA did not specify how many tickets it sold directly to the US, but only revealed that US residents bought the third-most tickets, behind Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

More than 200,000 tickets were purchased by US residents for the 2014 Brazil tournament, second only to the organizers, FIFA said. After the US failed to qualify for her 2018 Russia World Cup, FIFA announced that US residents had purchased around 97,000 tickets on its website after the group stage.

Donald Wine II, Director of the American Outlaws Supporters Group, said: “Whether it’s June or November, we’ve ruled out a lot of people who normally go to the World Cup.”

American Outlaws has refused to accept paid travel and accommodation from Qatari organizers. It will also not be hosting events like Brazil, instead aiming to meet at next year’s Women’s World Cup.

“From the very beginning, we expressed our disappointment with Qatar’s choice to host the World Cup, ranging from human rights violations, working conditions, LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights,” Outlaw said in a statement. Organizers are making it very difficult for groups like AO to help fans attend the World Cup and feel safe and welcome, as well as host the event. The organization does not host a single event in Qatar, but hopes to do so in New Zealand and Australia next year.”

The United States Soccer Federation hosts fan gatherings on the eve of every US game at the ‘Budweiser Club’ adjacent to a hotel in Doha. Qatar banned alcohol in stadiums, but alcohol was available at parties.

“I’m going to play every World Cup for the rest of my life. I’m crazy,” said 41-year-old Rodney Malayag from Inglewood, Calif. “I love sports. I love to travel.”

Among the fans was Kanika Perry Acosta, the mother of US midfielder Kerrin Acosta. Fresh off a flight from Houston to Seattle to Qatar, she was wearing a new T-her shirt provided to her family by the USSF.

“He lives his dream,” she said of her son.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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