The teams are divided into eight four team groups, each of which plays a round robin tournament before the top two advance. Then, single elimination will continue until a champion is crowned.
The Americans start with a match against England tomorrow afternoon.
Fans gathered at the South African restaurant Madiba in Fort Greene to cheer on the home team.
“We’re celebrating because the first goal of the season was for [former South African President Nelson Mandela],” said Madiba owner Mark Henegran. “The first goal was a victory for us. We’re going to carry on like this for a month.”
“I’m very proudly South African right now,” said Chantel Frizzle, a South African New Yorker. “I wish that I could be in South Africa right now, instead of here. But Madiba is my second family and being here is just as special for me at this point. It is chaos in there.”
“Moments like this make me proud to be a South African,” said Adel Grobler. “I’m glad I can share it with my fellow South Africans in New York. I think it represents unity. It’s a rainbow nation that’s coming together to play.”
It is the first time the World Cup is being held on the African continent.
“I am not a soccer fan but I think this is a major thing for South Africa and very positive thing for the country and the continent and everyone is so excited,” said a Madiba customer.
Meanwhile, customers watching the tie game in a Mexican restaurant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn were thrilled at watching their fellow countrymen play.
“We expected to win because I think Mexico has better futbol [soccer team] than South Africa, but we’ll take the tie, and we’ll see what happens with France and Uruguay right now,” said one customer.
“I was scared at first. I thought we wasn’t going to win, but then when I saw Mexico put in that goal, it was okay,” said another.
French supporters in SoHo, Manhattan and fans of Uruguay in Jackson Heights, Queens also had plenty of reactions to the first day of World Cup play.
“It’s great, I love it. The environment is really high energy and it’s a lot of fun surrounded by friends and we get to watch a great game,” said a viewer. Even though, you know, we were hoping France was going to win, it ended up to be a good game.”
“The World Cup for Uruguay as a Uruguayan is very important because it means a lot to such a small country. We hope at least to go to the finals,” said another viewer.
The world tournament started on a sad note, as Mandela’s 13 year old great granddaughter was killed in a car crash on her way home from a World Cup kickoff concert. Mandela then decided to skip the opening ceremony.