November 19, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

15 administrators and coaches dressed in World Cup soccer jerseys smile and pose.
Administrators and coaches at Calvin wear soccer jerseys in honor of World Cup 2022.

Beginning Sunday, November 20, the world will be watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup. So too will faculty, staff, and students at Calvin University.

The campus community will have a vested interest, and in nearly every single game. That’s because Calvin faculty, staff, and students hold citizenship or residency in 25 of the 32 countries represented (see sidebar for list of countries).

Celebrating countries and cultures

Calvin University President Wiebe Boer holds citizenship in three of those countries (United States, Canada, and the Netherlands). He and his family are also big soccer fans. Boer developed an interest in soccer while growing up as a missionary kid in Nigeria.

“I love watching the game of soccer,” said Boer, who wrote his dissertation at Yale and later a book on the history of football [soccer] in Nigeria. “But what I love more is the community it creates. To have so many cultures and countries represented on our campus is going to make this year’s World Cup experience that much richer.”

“Research shows and our lived experience bears out the fact that sport brings people together and elicits a passionate response in a way unmatched by almost any other activity,” said Brian Bolt, dean for education at Calvin University and co-host of the podcast Sport.Faith.Life. “Then, you add to this the fact that the World Cup provides a platform for many countries to not only showcase their soccer skills, but also to show off the beauty of their country’s culture, and you can see why this event becomes so communally significant.”

Creating a communal experience

Calvin University staff are hoping to curate and support that communal excitement over the next month. One of the ways the campus is doing that is through creating the World Cup Cave in a space adjacent to Johnny’s Café. Flags of all 32 countries competing this year are hanging in the space and two large TV monitors are setup to show the games.

John Witte, dean of students, says he hopes the Calvin community will come together throughout the next few weeks to experience the World Cup in this space.

“We are so blessed to have students from all over the world here at Calvin,” said Witte, “and we are hoping because of the investment we all have in this event, that this space we’ve created for the games to be watched will be filled with energy as we celebrate the many countries and cultures and watch some great soccer together.”

Of the 48 games that will be played in the opening group stage, only one of those games features countries where Calvin faculty, staff, and students do not hold citizenship or residency.

Calvin connection

These are the countries competing in the World Cup where Calvin faculty, staff, or students hold citizenship or residency:







Costa Rica







Korea Republic






Saudi Arabia




United States


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