US fans give up Thanksgiving to travel to World Cup – NBC10 Philadelphia | Tech US News


Héctor García’s family struggled to understand his decision to travel to this year’s World Cup and skip their annual gathering of 30 family and friends.

“This would be my 40th year cooking turkey and I gave that up to be here. It was tough,” he said. “They were like, are you going to miss Thanksgiving? I’m like, well, yeah, it’s the World Cup. It’s not my fault they held it in the fall, in the winter.”

Garcia, a 59-year-old man from Glendale Heights, Illinois, spoke at an American fan meeting Sunday night, wearing an Uncle Sam suit. He said he had tickets for 28 of the 64 matches in his fifth World Cup after 1994, 2002, 2006 and 2018.

Moving the tournament from its usual June/July slot to November/December likely caused some American fans to skip the trip to Qatar. Others used to making summer vacation a football trip couldn’t make the trek because school is in session.

The U.S. Soccer Federation said it sold about 3,300 tickets for the Americans’ opener against Wales on Monday, 3,800 for Friday’s match against England and 3,100 for the Nov. 29 group stage final against Iran. In addition, conditional tickets were sold for the tie: approximately 2,100 for the round of 16, 1,100 for the quarter-finals and semi-finals, 800 for the third-placed match and 1,500 for the final on 18 December.

FIFA did not specify how many tickets it sold directly to the US. U.S., only U.S. residents purchased the third place behind Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

For the 2014 tournament in Brazil, FIFA said more than 200,000 tickets were purchased by US residents, according to the host. After the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, FIFA said after the group stage that US residents had bought about 97,000 tickets on its website.

“I think the reason it’s different is mainly because of the cost factors associated with getting to Qatar,” said Donald Wine II, a board member of the American Outlaws supporters group. “This has put off a lot of people who would normally go to a World Cup, it doesn’t matter if it’s June or November.”

The American Outlaws refused to accept paid travel and lodging from the Qatari organizers. It will also not host events, as it did in Brazil, but instead will target meetings at next year’s Women’s World Cup.

“From the beginning, we expressed our disappointment with the selection of Qatar as the host country for the World Cup, from human rights abuses, workers’ conditions, to LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights,” the Outlaws said in a statement. “The organizers of this World Cup have made it difficult for groups like AO to help fans get to the World Cup, feel safe and welcome, or organize events on their terms. As such, the organization does not organize independent events in Qatar, as we expect next year in New Zealand and Australia.”

The U.S. Soccer Federation hosts fan gatherings at a “Budweiser Club” adjacent to a Doha hotel on the eve of all U.S. games. Although Qatar has banned alcohol from stadiums, it was available at the party: for 115 Qatari riyals a drink, or about $32.

“I’m planning on going to every World Cup for the rest of my life. I’m hooked,” said Rodney Marayag, a 41-year-old from Inglewood, California. “I love sports. I love traveling.”

Among the fans was Kanikah Perry-Acosta, mother of US midfielder Kellyn Acosta. Fresh off a flight from Houston to Seattle and Qatar, he was wearing a new T-shirt provided to families by the USSF.

“He’s living his dream,” she said of her son. “It’s amazing.”


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