Ignore the chilly US temperatures, it’s time for the FIFA World Cup — and though the international soccer championship is usually held in the summer, this year’s competition will be playing out from November 20 to December 18 in Qatar, where 32 teams from around the world will compete for this year’s title, including, yes, Team USA.
Analysts predict Brazil will have the strongest showing at this year’s series, with a 16 percent chance of winning. Just behind the front-runner is team Argentina, along with France, the defending champions, Spain, and England rounding out the top five potential contenders. As for Team USA, the Americans are expected to make it past the initial group stage, where they play Wales, England and Iran, with the top two teams from each of the eight groups going through to a knockout round of 16. Analysts don’t predict that the US team will make it past the knockout round, however, standouts like midfielder Christian Pulisic and forward Josh Sargent are expected to perform well.
But the soccer has so far been overshadowed by controversy over the host country, Qatar. Questions abound about how a country with no significant sporting pedigree was handed the world’s second-biggest sporting event after the Olympics have been swirling since the decision was made in 2010, leading to allegations of bribery by the nation to win the hosting bid. Qatar’s summer climate — where temperatures regularly hit 110 degrees and there is punishing humidity — forced the move to a winter tournament.
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The tiny Gulf emirate’s appalling record on a multitude of human rights issues has also been thrust into the spotlight. The government of Qatar forbids homosexuality, threatening three years in prison, and hotels have refused to take bookings from same-sex couples ahead of the tournament. The country’s ruler even told LGBTQIA+ attendees that they were welcome but needed to respect the local culture. In response, Team USA has stated they will wear a rainbow logo in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community, but have stopped short of the boycott some gay rights’ groups have called for. England’s team is also highlighting the rainbow, with team captain Harry Kane wearing a One Love armband – and prepared to be fined for the act.
Also in the UK the Brew Dog beer company has mounted a huge advertising campaign to throw the spotlight on Qatar’s record on human rights. The tournament has highlighted the plight of Qatar’s immigrant workers from developing countries, with the country accused of covering up the scale of deaths as it built its network of stadiums and hotels. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, which organizes the World Cup has responded that “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognized human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.”
But the concerns could fade into the background on Sunday at 11am, when the Qatari team kicks off against Ecuador. The earliest games start at 8am.Team USA will play Wales on Monday at 2pm.
For those curious to tune into the action here in Hell’s Kitchen, there are several bars and restaurants showing the Cup throughout the tournament’s duration as well as offering limited-time food and drink specials.
Barking Dog — 329 W49th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue
The folks at Barking Dog will be hosting viewings of The World Cup along with special prices on their beverages including $15 pitchers of beer, a bucket of six beers for $35, wings and beer for $15 and burgers and beer for $20. Sounds like a score!
Daltons — 611 9th Avenue between W43rd Street and W44th Street
The longtime West Side pub favorite will be serving breakfast for all early morning games, with 30 screens tuned into the competition. Take in a match with a Green Eggs Scramble!
Fusion Bar and Grill — 688 10th Avenue between W48th Street and W49th Street
The Peruvian and Mexican eatery is showing World Cup games and offering special prices on beer buckets, maragaritas, hot toddies, empanadas, buffalo wings, burgers, nachos and anticuchos to snack on while you shout at the screen. Mexico are in the World Cup, with their first match against Poland on Tuesday at 11am, and Fusion is celebrating Peru’s neighbor Ecuador, who play the opening match of tournament on Sunday at 11am.
Havana Central — 151 W46th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue
The Times Square-adjacent tasty Cuban restaurant will be showing games throughout the series, offering a perfect place for your friend group to meet up for their appetizer sampler platter and Havana Street Corn while you take in the footie! Cuba last appeared in the World Cup in 1938, so this is not a partisan venue.
Hibernia Bar — 401 W50th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue
The Irish go-to will be open at 2pm for matches and earlier for select games, starting with 11am on Sunday November 20 for the opening Qatar vs Ecuador match. Ireland did not qualify for the World Cup, but the nation’s fans are among the most boisterous and friendly — and Hibernia is already the home of the city’s Manchester United supporters, so expect a lot of soccer fans when you drop by.
Hurley’s Saloon — 232 W48th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue
Multi-level drinking multiplex Hurley’s will be showing multiple matches at their bar throughout series. The bar also features a rooftop and heated patio and private rooms available for group viewing parties!
Jasper’s Taphouse & Kitchen — 761 9th Avenue between W51st Street and W52nd Street
Enjoy Custard Soaked French Toast or classic wings as you tune into the games at Jasper’s. The bar will be playing matches with sound on for maximum fan experience.
Le Rivage — 340 W46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue
Looking for a fine dining viewing experience? Join Chef Paul Denamiel and the team at Le Rivage for the World Cup served with a bit of classic French comfort food. France is the reigning World Cup champions, so expect supporters of Les Bleus to be emotionally engaged.
Lilly’s Craft and Kitchen — 675 9th Avenue between W46th and W47th Street
Lilly’s, already a longtime favorite for sporty brunch, will be showing all of the games live! Seems like the perfect time to try their $28 bottomless brunch featuring Banana Chocolate Pancakes, a bevy of Eggs Benedict options, and of course, Bloody Marys.
Mercury Bar West — 659 9th Avenue between W45th and W46th Streets
Enjoy a hearty breakfast (or, a selection of over 20 draft beers!) at Mercury Bar West, who will be showing all of the games on 9th Avenue.
Nelore Grill — 744 9th Avenue between W50th and W51st Street
The 9th Avenue Brazilian kitchen will be showing games accompanied by their signature Peão Martini, steaks and Quindim. Cheering on their home team is the Brazilian national passion, so expect a fun time.
Tito Murphy’s — 346 W46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue
The Restaurant Row Mexican eatery will be opening early for 10am games, and you can enjoy brunch specialities like Churro French Toast, Chilaquiles Bistek and Huevos Rancheros. Mexico is serious about soccer, so be prepared to cheer.
Midnight Theatre – 75 Manhattan Plaza West between W31st and W32nd Street
If you’re looking for a cinematic viewing experience, the Manhattan West immersive entertainment venue and café will show matches on their 4K high definition big screen and serve bespoke food and speacialty cocktails from eatery Hidden Leaf, starting with the opening Qatar vs Ecuador match on Sunday November 20.
La Pulperia — 623 9th Avenue between W44th Street and W45th Street
The Latin American fusion favorite will screen the Argentina vs Mexico match on November 26 at 1pm — with tequila shots on the house for every goal scored. Now there’s a reason to cheer!!
Rice X Beans — 688 10th Avenue betwen W48th and W49th Street
The new Brazilian restaurant from neighborhood favorite Chef Carlinhos said: “This week we are thankful for…soccer!” The café will show Brazil’s match against Serbia on Turkey Day (November 24) as a fun alternative to the traditional holiday dinner! Brazil are favorites for the World Cup, so expect a raucous atmosphere.
Scruffy Duffy’s — 639 10th Avenue between W45th and W46th Street
At Scruffy Duffy’s, the motto is: “Come for a beer, stay for the game!” and you can do so for the World Cup, where as owner Pat Hughes told W42ST, “the TVs will be on.” They’ll also be on next door at Hellcat Annie’s Taproom.