World Cup has UI students taking a break from studying to kick it

World Cup has UI students taking a break from studying to kick it

URBANA — For University of Illinois senior Shivang Chaudhary, watching Tuesday's World Cup semifinal on a projector screen at the Illini Union was more important than preparing for his psychology courses.

"I've always loved the community it builds," Chaudhary said between bites of his burrito bowl and finishing homework for his next class later that day.

During France's 1-0 win against Belgium, other students appeared to be multitasking in the same way.

"I really started to follow soccer a little later than most people," Chaudhary said. "But even if you don't follow it, it's the people that make the games fun to watch it. It gets the whole community involved."

In the crowded Courtyard Cafe, some students only looked up from their computers when the cries of disappointed fans echoed. Others were beating on the cafe tables and waving flags.

By halftime of Tuesday's semifinal, employees at the cafe were forced to open another viewing room to accommodate the sea of fans.

One lucky Croatia fan was able to secure a seat in the main area with several of his friends before the craziness began. Nikhil Mehta, an electrical engineering student, said he wanted Belgium to win because his friends were rooting for France.

"I just love how high the stakes are in soccer," he said. "Knowing how big of a deal the games are makes it all so much exciting. I really want to see Croatia win since they've never won the World Cup before."

Next up: Today's 1 p.m. semifinal pitting England and Craotia.