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Fans support professional soccer

Meghan Thomassen | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It’s almost summer and football season is in full swing – for students loyal to the European and Mexican soccer leagues, that is.

Every week, fans gather informally in the LaFortune Student Center to watch their favorite teams battle it out on the big screen. The Champions Leagues are currently in their playoff stages, and for senior Oscar Gonzalez, these crucial games could call him home to watch his local team, Tigres UANL, play in the finals.

“It’s a team I’ve been following since I was a kid … It’s pretty important to me,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he follows all five major soccer leagues and is considering skipping the Commencement ceremony for the North American Champions League finals if Tigres goes to the finals.

“I’m a fanatic, and if they make it to the finals, I will surely skip [Commencement],” he said.
LaFortune serves as a hub for the international games unavailable to students through Notre Dame’s regular Comcast cable offerings.

“I know there are a lot of people on campus who like it and I’ll watch it with them in LaFortune, but not all my friends like soccer,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he loves soccer because he grew up playing back home in Mexico.

“You can easily play on the streets … People have soccer balls or just have a can, as long as you have something to kick around,” he said.

Gonzalez said he preferred soccer over American football and basketball because soccer is a continuous game.

“It’s not like American football [where] you play for ten seconds and stop for a little while,” he said. “Anybody can play it. You don’t have to be too fast or skilled … You can play and don’t have to be an athlete.”

Sophomore Michael Gills said he follows his team, Newcastle United, both on the big screen in LaFortune and in his room.

“I watch multiple games a week of soccer,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to watch here in LaFortune. I [also] watch in my room because I pay [extra] for the cable service.”

Gills said he likes watching the games in LaFortune due to the exciting atmosphere that usually accompanies important games.

“You come to LaFun and you see huge groups of people watching it,” he said. “All the students are very passionate about it, and I like to watch with them because they care a lot.”

Gills said he has been watching soccer since he was born because his dad is from Newcastle. He said the Champions League is comprised of the top teams from around the world.

“It’s the best players from around the world playing in one competition,” Gills said. “It happens every year, and [they] qualify by previous performances in your respective league.”

Gills said one of the most appealing parts of soccer is its large audience.

“Everybody watches it,” he said. It is really the world’s game.”