• Soccer fans gather at Ashdown House for the World Cup first-round match between Portugal and Mexico held June 21. From left are Jorge Almeida and Clara Barata, both Harvard graduate students; new MIT graduate Reimundo Heluani; Marcus Dahlem, graduate student in EECS; Joao Castro, ESD graduate student; and Alejandra Menchaca, aero-astro graduate student. Menchaca was the only one in this group rooting for Mexico.

    Soccer fans gather at Ashdown House for the World Cup first-round match between Portugal and Mexico held June 21. From left are Jorge Almeida and Clara Barata, both Harvard graduate students; new MIT graduate Reimundo Heluani; Marcus Dahlem, graduate student in EECS; Joao Castro, ESD graduate student; and Alejandra Menchaca, aero-astro graduate student. Menchaca was the only one in this group rooting for Mexico.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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Ashdown gets a kick out of World Cup

Soccer fans gather at Ashdown House for the World Cup first-round match between Portugal and Mexico held June 21. From left are Jorge Almeida and Clara Barata, both Harvard graduate students; new MIT graduate Reimundo Heluani; Marcus Dahlem, graduate student in EECS; Joao Castro, ESD graduate student; and Alejandra Menchaca, aero-astro graduate student. Menchaca was the only one in this group rooting for Mexico.


World Cup fever has gripped MIT's Ashdown House.

Since June 9, the residence hall on the corner of Memorial Drive and Massachusetts Avenue has offered up snacks and a huge movie-screen-sized television to World Cup fanatics.

MIT-affiliated soccer fans from all over the world have been gathering each day to catch as many games as they can, and friendly rivalries abound.

Every four years, the World Cup draws huge television ratings around the world. The monthlong tournament, held in Germany this year, draws 32 national teams who play one another in a series of games until two teams emerge to play for the championship. The World Cup is soccer's biggest prize. This year, the championship game will be in Berlin on July 9.

"It's the biggest event in the world," said Juan Botero, a graduate student who organized the Ashdown House screenings and snacks. Although his home country -- Colombia -- did not make it into the World Cup tournament this year, he was still excited about all the games. "I love football," he said, using the more popular term for soccer around the world.

On June 21, a small group gathered to watch Portugal play Mexico in the early morning. The mood in the room was festive as flags from many of the countries playing in the World Cup dangled above fans' heads. Most people gathered at Ashdown were fans of Portugal so when the team won 2 to 1, fans were out of their seats with excitement.

The June 21 crowd wasn't as rowdy as some, though, according to Botero. "I love when the African teams are playing," he said. "The crowd has a lot of energy. The fans jump and scream."

The World Cup brings a feeling of universal understanding that is absent in many other sports, Botero said. "It is a great way to have fun with people from all over the world," he said.

Even when the games are closely contested, people from each country can find common ground. "It is a brotherhood of people," Botero said.

With two or three games on each day, there is plenty of time to bond, although most in the room are too engrossed in the games to chat much. The food varies from game to game -- sometimes there is ice cream, sometimes finger foods -- but there are always at least a few people gathered in the dark, enjoying the game.

"Everyone is welcome here," Botero said. "We just want to screen the games and let people have fun."


Topics: Global, Students

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