This Sunday, Argentina and France face off in the final match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Patrick Ridge, assistant professor of Spanish at Virginia Tech, knows significantly more about soccer than the casual World Cup spectator. He understands the social and cultural significance of the game.

“As we’ve seen at the World Cup, soccer has historically provided the popular means for imagining national, regional, and social identity,” Ridge said.

Ridge incorporates lessons from the game into his classes. He will teach a course this spring about sports films in the United States and Latin America. Next fall, he’ll teach a Spanish language course surrounding the culture of soccer or fútbol.

“Soccer is an engaging way to study literature, history, politics, economics, gender, race, and ethnicity, specifically in the U.S. and Latin American context,” he said.

Ridge will be rooting for Argentina and in particular, the country’s soccer star, Lionel Messi on Sunday.

“He's an immensely talented dribbler, passer, and finisher, but also has the unique ability to stay on his feet, even when fouled,” Ridge said. “Perhaps this is why so many U.S. fans - notoriously critical of the game's theatrics - admire him as well.”

As Messi racks up endorsements from such brands as Gatorade and Adidas, he represents the game’s significance on the world stage.

“This suggests how soccer is now much more than a game, but a global spectacle,” Ridge said.

About Ridge

Patrick Ridge is an assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures. While his current research focuses primarily on the literary and cultural representations of soccer in Latin America, he also specializes in film and media studies. He has published on the documentaries of World Cup ’78 in Argentina, homoaffectivity in the Mexican Netflix series “Club de Cuervos,” masculinity in Brazilian soccer films, and violence in contemporary Spanish cinema.

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