In March, long before the tournament began, he saw Iceland’s soccer team play a game at the Red Bull Stadium in New Jersey. “I was sitting next to this Icelandic guy, giant beard, everything you want in your big awesome Viking Icelandic fan,” he said. Once the World Cup started he watched games with other fans at viewing parties hosted by Reyka Vodka, an Icelandic brand.
He wore a team shirt and waved the country’s flag. He is working on mastering the famous Viking Clap, a slow chant accompanied by grunts. “I had to watch some YouTube videos to get it right,” he said. “It is intimidating as anything and really cool.”
Since the tournament began on June 14, the World Cup has captured the attention of the world. People have followed every play in sports bars, in restaurants, in their homes. Since the United States team didn’t quality, Americans don’t have a natural team to support, so many people are choosing to cheer on countries they visited or are about to visit on vacation. If you’re going to adopt a country, they figure, why not one you experienced firsthand?
For many Americans, that means supporting the people who made their trips so fun and meaningful.
Debra Locker Griffin, a 47-year-old from Louisville, Ky., and her husband, Ron Griffin, traveled to Costa Rica in 2016 for their 20th anniversary. They went zip-lining through the Arenal Volcano region and toured Manuel Antonio Park, an area with rain forests and white sand beaches, with a guide. They love wildlife and saw animals ranging from sloths and monkeys to crocodiles. Now they are rooting for the Costa Rican team.
A big reason has to do with the people they met. “The country is filled with wonderfully warm people who are proud to be from Costa Rica. You could tell they really love their soccer team by the banners hung in restaurants, stores and outside buildings,” she said. “It made us want to cheer them on.”