It only happens once every 4 years for only a month. It’s day in and day out soccer games, passion, sweat, blood and tears.

 It’s the world’s biggest spectacle with up to 3.2 billion viewers, excluding the millions of fans who show up to scream for their teams in the stadiums. It was also recorded that 1 billion viewers turned on their devices to watch the 2014 world cup final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This summer Russia  is hosting the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Twelve stadiums were sold out and are in use for the tournament and 12 different cities in Russia host the stadiums and the fans. Thirty-two countries were invited to the world’s most prestigious sporting event because they fought to qualify over 3 years in different parts of the world. All seven continents were represented in the start of the tournament and the world was buying the hype.  

Four years have passed since the last world cup and Futbol fever has struck Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. “To me, the World Cup is the most exciting competition in all of sports and of course, soccer is the most international sport.” says Paolo Reichlin, instructor in modern languages at Phillips Exeter Academy.  “I have not missed a World Cup match thus far with the exception of the 10:00 am games this week since I teach in the morning.” So you can see, to the futbol fans it’s not just a sport, it’s a way of life — it is a deep love and passion.

We ask ourselves, why is this game so intriguing? One student in the summer Exeter program, German Castro-Leonardo,15, said,“I like that it gets intense and the happiness you get when your team wins.”

For the semi-finals of this prestigious event, France, “les bleus”  faced the “Red Devils”, Belgium on Tuesday, July 10th at 2:00 pm EST, for a place in the long awaited World Cup Final. Croatia’s “The Blazers” encountered England’s “Three Lions” on Wednesday 2:00 pm EST.  

These encounters followed France’s defeat of Uruguay 2-0  and Belgium’s humbling of Brazil, 2-1, leaving both winners in an epic encounter for the semi-finals on the left side of the bracket. While on the right side, England defeated Sweden 2-0 and despite Croatia’s and Russia’s 2-2 tie after extra time, Croatia was able to take the win on penalties, to advance and face a positive, hopeful England in the semi- finals of this edition of the world cup.

Although some of our favorite teams suffered an early exit from the tournament, the World Cup is still the focus in Phillips Exeter academy, and many have turned to root for another team. “I rooted for the Mexican team but now that they are out, I am rooting for France” said German.

There are also some fanatics like Mr. Reichlin who just simply love the sport. As he said, “At the start of the tournament, I was rooting for Spain. Once Spain was eliminated, my allegiance shifted to Colombia and Mexico. Now that both Latin American teams have been eliminated, I just want to watch the best possible caliber of soccer.”

It’s more than just a sport.It is the feeling that you get when your country has just scored, and the fear in your eyes when there is an opportunity for the opposition. It is the chant of passion that you hear worldwide,every 4 years when this tournament comes on.

And now: on to France vs. Croatia.