At Café In de Smitse, the atmosphere is good on Monday evening. The Dutch team plays its first match of this World Cup against Senegal and football fans have flocked to the student pub to watch. The pub broadcasts all the Dutch matches and is completely decked out in orange: hats, flags and, above all, lots of orange shirts.
Koen van Tiggelen (22) thinks the preparations for the World Cup have been crooked, especially the issue surrounding the construction of the stadiums: “FIFA should have been liable for the poor working conditions there.” Still, he faithfully watches the Netherlands’ matches this World Cup: “It does feel double that something you are so looking forward to is put under the microscope, but it is still cool to see your country in action.”
He reads a lot in the news about boycotts, but in his own circle of friends, Koen does not notice supporters dropping out. In his position as a board member of the Erasmus Recruitment Days, it is very different: “Our sponsors don’t want anything to do with the World Cup or football. If we suggested having an action about the Dutch team or putting up a PlayStation with FIFA, they would immediately drop out.”
Fee Steijaert (21), president of Café In de Smitse, explains why the campus pub broadcasts the matches. “We started preparations a long time back and saw the World Cup mainly as a good opportunity to attract people to the pub. Within the board, we didn’t really consider whether it was responsible to broadcast the matches, we only discussed that in the last few days. In hindsight, we could have been more conscious about it.”
Still, Fee does not think the board would have made a different choice. “We did have good discussions in the end, but our consideration was mainly about organizing enjoyable evenings. I also think that every student does know what is going on and a lot of awareness was created.”
The Erasmus Pavilion, the grand café on campus, also broadcasts the matches. On Monday evening, just under 20 people are watching the match during dinner; apart from the TV, there is not really an ‘orange’ atmosphere.
In the canteen at Erasmus Sport, all matches are broadcast within the opening hours of the sports complex. The university’s sports organisation even links a promotion to the World Cup: anyone who buys a sports pass during the group phase gets their money back if the Netherlands wins the World Cup. On Monday, thirty students watch the game against Senegal, eating fries after their workout. Again, it is a bit more subdued than at In de Smitse, no orange shirts in sight.
There was discussion on the issue, says Jon de Ruijter, director of Stichting Erasmus Sport, but his colleagues and he decided to broadcast the matches. “We have seen the criticism of the World Cup and broadcasting is a thorny issue, but sport is our core business, so we preferred that.” Erasmus Sport does offer room for discussion. On Wednesday 23 November, for instance, there will be a World Cup Talkshow in collaboration with Studium Generale, which will also focus on the darker sides of the World Cup.
Student football association R.S.V. Antibarbari, on the other hand, pays little attention to the World Cup. The association is not organising any events or holding any actions around the championship in Qatar. They do not boycott completely; if a member asks if the TV can be turned on for a match, it is not forbidden.