“So, since the United States aren’t playing, who are you going to root for?” It’s been the number one question the last few weeks among diehard supporters and casual fans alike. The 2018 World Cup is upon us and fans of the United States are struggling to figure out which team to latch their support to as the tournament gets set to kickoff June 14th in Russia. Some people are rooting for teams like England, Spain, Germany or Brazil. Others may be rooting for the country that has their favorite player or players from their club team. Others may be thinking of supporting the countries of their heritage. 23andMe even has a commercial that tries to capitalize on fans who may want to figure out where they are from to support that team in the World Cup. Some pundits are even supporting the USMNT’s main rival, Mexico. But rest assured everyone, I have the perfect team for everyone to root for during the World Cup:
That’s right, I’m not supporting any team during the World Cup. There are several reasons why, but the main one is evident: it’s the World Cup. This isn’t a tournament where you need to latch onto a team or find a reason to watch. It’s the world’s biggest, greatest, and most important tournament. That billing is enough to want to tune in and watch, and there’s no reason to have to select a team to enhance that excitement. The world’s game will crown a champion, and sometimes it’s okay to remain neutral when tuning in to see who will hoist that famous trophy. A lot of us do it with the Euros, Copa America, and the Africa Cup of Nations where we don’t have teams are competing in those tournaments. The World Cup will allow us to see some of the best teams in the world play without the nerves that come with hoping the USMNT do well.
The storylines, the players, the passion, the drama, the euphoria, the heartbreak. These feelings are not team-specific. Can Brazil exalt the demons of 2014 and win its 6th World Cup? Can Germany defend its title? Can Spain get one last trophy for its greatest generation of players? Can Lionel Messi and Argentina finally win something? Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Portugal to the one trophy he hasn’t held in his career? Can France or Belgium break through and win it all? Can England do some damage and finally live up to the hype? Will Egypt or Morocco or another Cinderella surprise some people? All of these storylines already have me energized and ready for the calendar to flip to June 14th, but I don’t have to pick a team for that energy to be there.
Fans should be able to watch the individual matches in the World Cup and take them in for the beautiful displays of football they may be…or, there could be some matches that make you want to pull your hair out because it’s not a great matchup. You could root for every team who faces Mexico (I’ll be real, I’ll probably find myself doing that), but on the whole, this tournament sells itself. The hype is there. The drama is there. We shouldn’t need to gas up the World Cup by feigning lifelong fandom of a team that we’re only rooting for because our real team isn’t there.
Join me on #TeamNoTeam. It’s really the best team to support, because in the end, you know by supporting no team, you will win every match and be the true World Cup winner.