Fans Around NYC Set for World Cup Kickoff

Nacy, Edison and Bryan Macancela buying flags on Roosevelt Ave. (Photo by Gustavo Martínez via El Diario).

Nacy, Edison and Bryan Macancela buying flags on Roosevelt Avenue. (Photo by Gustavo Martínez via El Diario)

The spirit of the 2014 World Cup, which kicks off Thursday in Brazil, is already underway in the city’s Latino neighborhoods, and two recent stories in El Diario/La Prensa report further on how fans are preparing to observe the event.

A story by Gustavo Martínez tells of the festive atmosphere on Roosevelt Avenue, in Queens.

Banners are hanging from windows and porches, people are wearing the colors of their country’s team, and, for a whole month, everyone’s attention will be fixed on what goes on on the Brazilian soccer fields.

“It is like a vacation in which you watch fútbol every day,” said Ecuadorean Luis Bermejo, who walked around with his family sporting the U.S. team’s jersey. “Right now, we are headed to the store to buy the Mexican jersey for our kids. They have one for every country we love at home.”

His wife, Verónica Piña, wore the red jersey for her native Mexico’s team, while her children, 4-year-old Nathalie and 3-year-old Matthew, wore yellow shirts for Ecuador.

“We are very excited about the World Cup, and that is why we get all three shirts for our kids: Ecuador, for Dad’s country; Mexico, for Mom’s country; and the U.S, because this is where they were born and it is the country that gave us a chance,” he said.

Many are looking for last-minute memorabilia. The Macancela Family is purchasing banners at a specialty store.

“We can’t wait for the party. We’ll have a family get-together at home,” said Edison Macancela. “We are rooting for Mexico, where my wife is from, and also Ecuador, because that’s where we are from. But our real favorite is Brazil.”

Kendry Taylor is looking for his fellow Ticos (nickname for Costa Ricans) on Facebook. His page Ticos en Nueva York is calling on all Costa Ricans to get together this Saturday afternoon to support their team at Jack Demsey’s Restaurant Bar in Midtown Manhattan.

“The problem with our community is that we are all spread out and festivals and businesses located in New Jersey are too far away. That’s why we want to support Costa Rica from here,” said Taylor.

Fear of the Internet

Client Douglas Larios (l.) and Mari Cruz, manager at Ruinas de Copán restaurant in The Bronx (Photo by Gustavo Martínez via El Diario).

Customer Douglas Larios (l.) and Mari Cruz, manager at Ruinas de Copán restaurant in the Bronx. (Photo by Gustavo Martínez via El Diario)

Another article by Gustavo Martínez published last Tuesday, focuses on a Honduran restaurant in the Bronx in which the owners are worried that fans won’t come in to watch the games because they can watch them online.

When Honduras comes out to play their first match on June 15 against France, the smell of delicious baleadas [flour tortillas with beans], pollo con tajadas [fried chicken with fried green plantains] and curtido [lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar] will linger all over the city.

“You enjoy fútbol better when you accompany it with this food,” said Douglas Larios, a native of Olancho department [equivalent to a state] in Honduras and a resident of the Bronx. “We have played in two World Cups so far, so we feel confident about our team.”

Business owners, on the other hand, are not so optimistic. Some of them expect a surge in customers, but they know that their teams will be facing tough opponents.

“With the Internet, people don’t come to see the matches,” said Mary Cruz, manager at Ruinas de Copán restaurant in the Bronx. “They buy a case of beer, get a few friends together and stay at home. We played against England yesterday, and this place was empty. It used to be packed for a game like that.”

Cruz is hoping that the restaurant’s special offers and menu will attract more fans.

“We hope so; the World Cup should be a time to party,” said Cruz. “We will be showing the matches here on our TV screens.” (…)

As for the fans whose teams didn’t qualify, the Hondurans are taking them under their wing.

“I am a Guatemalan garífuna [Central American natives of African descent] but we are all one, and we will join the Honduran garífunas for the World Cup,” said Marcelino Alvarez. “Nothing is set in stone in fútbol; we are dreaming to see a surprise win.”

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