World Cup brings light to cultural traditions at Chatham

The World Cup brings people from around the world together for the love of country and soccer. See how Chatham University students celebrate in their home countries.


FIFA World Cup trophy. Photo Credit: History of Soccer

Josie Barton

The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off with 32 qualifying countries competing in a series of matches hoping to mark their global footprint. Hosted in Qatar, the World Cup unearths the cultural significance of the involved countries, all equally obsessed and determined to secure a winning title.

But for many – including many students and faculty at Chatham University – the World Cup is about more than just sports. It’s also an opportunity to show pride for their country with cultural traditions. 

According to Chatham University, the international student population is at about 3%. Some of them provided insight on their country’s reactions to the World Cup so far and their many traditions of celebration.

Argentina: From tango to tears

Argentina holds the first spot in its respective group with a foot in the door awaiting its match against the Netherlands on Dec. 9, kicking off the quarter-finals. A country known for its passion for soccer, Argentinians are feeling the pressure and excitement of the coming match and maintaining their devotion through celebration surrounded by family.

“Our way of celebration is everyone in the street clapping and celebrating and noise, food and alcohol,” Valentina Della Maddalena ‘24 said.

Maddalena moved to America to further her education in psychology and to play squash. She routinely watches her country play soccer with her family. Maddalena’s family gathered around the historic Obelisco Monument in Buenos Aires to watch the 2014 final match against Germany as a nation.

Celebrations typically include traditional meals, wine, music and tango – things that have been passed down through generations. However, sometimes outcomes to matches can lead to literal blood, sweat and tears and physical altercations.

“When [Argentinian national teams] Boca Juniors and River Plate play, they cannot be in the same stadium,” Maddalena said. “It has to be either one or the other.”

Mexico: Where Ochoa is ‘savior’

Finishing third in their respective group, Mexico has failed to qualify for the round of 16.

Sports culture makes up a large part of Mexican tradition, and fans gather at sports bars and encircle televisions to support and celebrate their team.

“I watch the World Cup religiously,” Vania Ramirez ‘25 said.

Ramirez moved to America in 2021 to complete her education in cell and molecular biology.

Mexican traditions range from customary dishes such as tacos, guacamole, chips and carne asada to social media discourse and celebrity status of players.

“Memo Ochoa is Mexico’s savior,” Sebastian Diaz-Tafel ‘26 said. At 37, Ochoa is the goalkeeper for Mexico’s team, reputable for his clean sheets.

Brazil: Celebrations in the streets

Brazil is famous for its food and culture surrounding soccer. Similarly to the Brazilian Carnival – a tradition that marks the beginning of Lent – the community gathers in open-concept bars and streets lined with barbecues and beer to celebrate. Work and schools also pause to watch the games.

“When Brazil wins, the whole country turns into a party,” Lucas Oliveira ‘25 said.

Oliveira moved to America to study data science and to play squash. He habitually watches soccer with his family and friends.

Ecuador: A bittersweet finish

When Ecuador finished third in its respective group and failed to qualify for the round of 16, sadness encompassed the country.

“We were sad but proud of the team because it is a very young team,” Sebastian Antonio Vaca Sanchez ‘26 said.

Sanchez moved to America to further his education in economics and to play squash. He regularly watches the World Cup with his large family.

Compared to America, celebration in Ecuador largely revolves around family, friends and homemade meals such as encebollado and special preparations of meats.

“The expectations for a soccer match in Ecuador are the same as expectations for an [American] football game here,” Sanchez said.

Canada: Nachos, wings and unwashed socks

Finishing last in its respective group, Canada has suffered a hat trick of defeat and, therefore, did not qualify for the round of 16. With a strong sports culture, Canada is known to show support to its football, hockey and soccer teams.

“You guys [Americans] are into whatever sports your country is playing, whereas my family watches the most popular [Canadian] sports,” Sam Brophy ‘26 said.

Brophy moved to America to further her education in exercise science and to play hockey. Gatherings of family and friends include foods such as nachos, chips and wings. Oftentimes, Canadians wear their luck on their jerseys and sometimes unwashed socks so as not to jinx their luck.

To see how the World Cup has played out, click the link below to the FIFA World Cup bracket.

2022 FIFA World Cup Bracket