World Cup Zone offers place for students to view international soccer tournament

Memorial Student Center and Office of International Education partner to unite students during monthlong competition
Abbey Goers | November 18, 2022

An estimated five billion people will tune in to watch a portion of the 2022 men's FIFA World Cup, from Sunday, Nov. 20, to Sunday, Dec. 18. The worldwide event, with soccer teams and fans from across the globe, will be held in Qatar, with an opening match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium, in Al Khor.

An estimated 550 million people will watch the final game on Dec. 18. By comparison, the most watched Super Bowl was viewed by an estimated 115 million people.

UW-Stout’s Memorial Student Center and Office of International Education are partnering to offer a World Cup Zone “for students to engage across cultures through their mutual love of the sport and competition,” said Danielle Clarizio, assistant director of International Student and Scholar Services.

Joshua Hoffmann and Chedly Mouelhi
Joshua Hoffmann and Chedly Mouelhi / UW-Stout

The zone will be in the Overlook area in MSC, on the second floor above the northwest entrance, where students can cheer on their favorite team or home country. The Overlook area features dozens of international flags.

A schedule is available in CONNECT, the university’s event app, and a full broadcast schedule and bracket will be posted in the World Cup Zone. When multiple games are being played simultaneously, an extra TV will be set up.

All 64 games will be broadcast live, with the exception of those being held at 4 a.m. and during fall break (Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27) when MSC will be closed.

For students remaining on campus during fall break, World Cup matches can be viewed on campus TVs in the residence halls.

Chedly Mouelhi, a student from Tunisia, said his country takes “the World Cup competition very seriously, along with the Olympics. Since I came to the U.S., I was looking for a place to watch soccer games. For the Office of International Education to organize such an event makes Stout really feel like home.”

Joshua Hoffmann agreed. “Growing up in Germany, where soccer is huge, the World Cup has always been one of the most anticipated events for many Germans, myself included. Almost the whole country will turn on their TVs to watch the German National Team play,” he said.

UW-Stout has 163 international students representing 42 countries this academic year; 14 of these countries have teams competing in the World Cup.

United in competition

The World Cup is held every four years. The past 22 tournaments over the last 92 years (it was canceled twice during WWII), were traditionally held in early to mid-summer. However, because of Qatar's intense summer heat, this year’s tournament is in November and December.


Chedly Mouelhi wearing his Tunisia jersey
Chedly Mouelhi wearing his Tunisia jersey / Chedly Mouelhi

This is the first time that our students can enjoy the World Cup together during a traditional fall semester. This is a huge event worldwide and huge for many of our international students, as well as soccer-loving students from the U.S.,” said MSC Director Darrin Witucki.

There are 32 countries competing, including the United States, which didn’t qualify for the tournament four years ago and is fielding the youngest team in the tournament.

“Opposing fans can unite,” said Witucki, who’s working with Clarizio to coordinate the World Cup Zone. “Danielle’s Premiere League team is Liverpool FC. My Premiere League team is the cross-city rival Everton FC.

"Despite the deep divisions of the Reds and Blues of Liverpool, we are working together to put this program in place for all our students that love futbol.”

Additional seating will be added in the Overlook area. “I hope we run out of seating. Soccer is best viewed on your feet – jumping up and down,” Witucki added.

MSC and OIE are also coordinating with the University Library to create a FIFA23 video game tournament for students during the times when no real games are being played.

“Video games are a popular pastime for students, and our FIFA23 tournament will provide an opportunity for students to play as their favorite national team and let UW-Stout name our own World Cup winner,” Clarizio said.

UW-Stout is a place where students from across the globe and across many degrees can come together and interact, strengthening the university community. UW-Stout’s FOCUS2030 strategic plan has five goals, including inclusive excellence by investing in, and ensuring access to, equitable, diverse and inclusive learning, student living and work environments that reflect the university’s regional and global connections.

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