Watch the World Cup in Green Library

June 13, 2018
C. Ryan Perkins

Twenty-four years ago in June of 1994 Stanford University welcomed the world to its campus when a series of World Cup games were played at Stanford Stadium.  In honor of Stanford’s history and connection to the World Cup we at the library are hosting viewings of the 2018 World Cup.  Come join us in Green Library’s Tierney Room during this World Cup season where we will be live streaming all games during the library’s regular operating hours beginning on June 14th.   You may ask, what does the library have to do with the World Cup?  Isn’t the library supposed to be a quiet place where silence and solitude reign supreme?

Apart from the spectacle of the World Cup which has been held every four years since 1930, not including 1942 and 1946 when it was cancelled due to WWII, there has been an increasing amount of scholarship that looks at soccer as a way of writing global, cultural, social, and political history.  As the World Cup draws our attention for a few weeks in the months of June and July to nations from where we acquire many of our materials it is worth thinking back to Stanford’s history as host of the 1994 World Cup.  If you’ve ever wondered how the World Cup came to Stanford Stadium you need look no further than our own Special Collections where you will find detailed minutes of meetings, to budgets, and descriptions of the efforts of members of the local business community to secure Stanford Stadium as a venue.  If you are curious to know about the intersections between the global game and scholarship we will have a display of books demonstrating soccer as fertile ground for exploring topics like international relations, the history of globalization, and colonialism to name but a few.

My own connection with soccer goes back to my early childhood when I was seldom found without a ball at my feet.  One of the greatest highlights of my fandom was during the summer of 1994. I had just graduated from high school in Oregon.  The World Cup was only days away and my parents had managed to pick up tickets to three games at Stanford Stadium for our entire family minus the dog.  My love for soccer, or football, as it is called in the rest of the world, started at an early age and grew into what some would call an obsession.  Regular team practices were never enough and a day wouldn’t go by when I wasn’t at the field practicing on my own, rehearsing skills I had seen performed by the likes of Diego Maradona and Johan Cryuff.  Growing up in the Portland area this meant I had a very wet and muddy childhood.

Every four years as the World cup approached the expectation and excitement of millions reached a feverish pitch.  Because the U.S. was never known for its soccer prowess my eyes were turned outward to countries where soccer was not just a game, but also an intricate part of life.  In part I attribute the international trajectory of my life to my love for a sport whose home was never in the U.S.  It encouraged me to look beyond my own world in Oregon and imagine life as a footballer in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, England, Morocco, Italy, or Romania.  May this World Cup help us to look beyond our own worlds and the spectacle of the games themselves to the larger history of the making of a global sport and realize that there are countless untold stories, from those of human trafficking and corruption to political maneuvering and the making of national cultures.   




















C. Ryan Perkins

C. Ryan Perkins

Curator for South Asian Studies
Curator for Islamic Studies and the Baha'i Collection