From the sheer numbers of youth programs (shout out to our friends at Soccer Planet and the Champaign Park District), to the collegiate level teams, to the amount of fans (and international residents) that abound — there’s no question we have a thing for the sport the rest of the world calls “football.”
So it’s not surprising that there’s a huge demand to watch the world’s biggest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup. A few fun facts:
- FIFA estimates that somewhere around 3.2 billion people will watch at least some part of the Cup, while the final will have somewhere around 1.3 billion viewers. (By comparison, the Super Bowl draws around 110 million viewers.)
- The tournament takes a month. It opens June 12 and the championship game will be played on July 13.
- The favorites (according to betting lines) are Germany; Argentina; Spain; and host Brazil.
The World Cup is a great opportunity to teach kids about geography — and cultures beyond our own. It’s also a lot of fun — a big party. And folks who are into it like to watch with others. So here’s a (partial) list of family-friendly places to watch the FIFA World Cup in Champaign-Urbana:
– Soccer Planet in Urbana. Watch the games at Soccer Planet — for free! According to the website: Most games will be available for the public to view at Soccer Planet during normal business hours with the exception of Sundays. Call before hand to confirm the game you wish to see will be on one of six flat screens or the large projector screen (call 217.367.9999). Did we mention admission is FREE?
– The Illini Union Courtyard Cafe and Rec Room. Venture to campus and check out most games on the screens at the Illini Union. Feel like a (college) kid again.
– The Bread Company in Urbana. If you’re in the mood for some great food, Urbana’s Bread Company (just south of Krannert Center) is showing all of the games. Bonus: it’s a little easier to grab a parking spot on this side of Campustown.
Watch at home? Sure! Games will be televised on ESPN networks in English and Univision networks in Spanish. ABC will televise 10 games, including the final. ESPN will screen 43, and ESPN2 will have 11.
Are you a fan of the FIFA World Cup tournament? Who are you rooting for this summer?