Brothers Jim and Tony Schnadelbach of Clarksdale cheer for Germany during the final World Cup game at Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville Sunday afternoon. The Schnadelbachs come from a family of German ancestry, and Jim came to visit his brother who is a student at Mississippi State to watch Germany play Argentina. Photo by: Zach Odom/Dispatch Staff
July 14, 2014 11:52:06 AM
STARKVILLE -- It was packed Sunday at Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville. There were people waiting for tables at 2 p.m. as the World Cup Final match began. At halftime, men had to wait to use the bathroom.
Eyes were fixed on televisions. There were gasps at near misses, cringes with collisions, playful banter between tables. The Major League Soccer season may still be going strong, but Germany's 1-0 victory over Argentina may be the last soccer match many in this part of the country will watch for some time.
There were scattered flags and jerseys. Many military personnel have spent time in Germany. Some fans supported their heritage. Most had no allegiance; they just needed to get their final fix of the tournament.
At a table in the bar, a group of friends from Mississippi State University were an eclectic mix. They came from Brazil, Mexico, Cameroon, Indonesia, El Salvador, Czech Republic and the United States.
Starkville native Allison Niffzinger was in Brazil for the beginning of the tournament. Niffzinger now resides in Miami, where she is one of the leaders of a chapter of the American Outlaws, the devout fans of the U.S. men's team. Aside from Brazil, no country bought more tickets for the month-long tournament than the U.S. She saw the U.S. team beat Ghana in its opening game in Natal.
"It was amazing," Niffzinger said. "I'm definitely going to Russia (site of 2018 World Cup)."
On her way from Miami to Starkville, Niffzinger stopped to catch a match. "I was at this dive bar in Tallahassee that was full of bikers. They were fixed on the game. I thought, 'Soccer's made it.'"
Soccer has certainly made an impression on the U.S., and an even bigger impression on TV ratings. More than 20 million viewers in the U.S. were expected to tune in Sunday.
In Peres Badial's home nation of Brazil, he said the game is more of a religion. Brazil may be in a state of mourning since it's humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals, but at least the nation avoided the ultimate pain -- their neighbor and rival Argentina hoisting the cup.
"Brazil can lose, but Argentina can't win," Badial said.
Badial got his wish, courtesy of a fantastic goal from Germany's Mario Gotze in 113th minute. When the goal went in there were cheers and groans alike; it seemed most were happy to see some action.
It could easily be four years until Starkville's Buffalo Wild Wings attracts a crowd for a soccer match, but you never know. Maybe soccer has made it in America.
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