Migrants play FIFA video games at plush NYC tent city on Randall’s Island
The FIFA World Cup has started early this year — and it’s being played out on Randall’s Island.
Migrants from around the globe sheltering at Mayor Eric Adams’ plush tent city in the East River have found common ground by making full use of the facility’s controversial amenities — and their favorite is the FIFA soccer video games on Xbox, residents told The Post.
“The Senegalese are the best at playing FIFA but the Colombians are good too,” said a Venezuelan migrant, who only identified himself as Jhoandry.
“We play FIFA on the Xbox, play cards, watch movies and listen to music on YouTube. It is very good.”
After sitting relatively empty for several weeks, about 200 asylum-seeking men are now estimated to be sheltering in the tent city, where the level of amenities, including the video games, have been a sore point among some New Yorkers.
Rashded Awdu, a 38-year-old mechanical engineer who fled Ghana because of persecution, is among the facility’s veritable United Nations of residents, who hail from countries including Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Senegal, Haiti, Cuba, Ghana and Colombia.
Awdum says he’s the tent city’s ping-pong champion — but that FIFA is the top way of passing time at the all-male facility.
“Everyone plays FIFA. There’s other games but all I see is people playing FIFA,” he told The Post on Thursday.
Awdu said he walked into the shelter last Sunday after couch surfing throughout New York City for more than five months — and found it a place filled with lux amenities.
“They treat us very well,” he said, adding they get “three good meals a day” and free internet and phones to reach their families back home.
“They have Xboxes, table tennis and Scrabble,” he continued. “I am very good at table tennis. Nobody has beaten me yet.
“The TVs have a million channels and you can watch anything you want — movies, documentaries or sport.”
Papa Malick Mbaye, who was among the more than 100 Senegalese men who moved into the shelter last weekend, said he, too, passes the time “playing a lot of Xbox.”
“I have been playing FIFA. I’m good at FIFA,” the 35-year-old, who bought a plane ticket straight to New York after crossing the US southern border, said.
The tricked-out facility is supposed to be a short-term solution as the migrants figure out their next move, but city officials have previously acknowledged that no one will be booted for staying beyond the goal of just four days.
The facility, which opened on Oct. 19, cost roughly $325,000 to kit out. The cushy conditions inside — including the Xboxes and WiFi — have criticized by some, who said it unfair that nearby city-run homeless shelters are in run
Venezuelan Manuel Contrera, 29, said he had shacked up in two Brooklyn shelters before checking himself into the tent city — quickly joining the FIFA crew.
“I have been playing FIFA on the Xbox, but they have whatever game you want,” he said. “On a scale of 1 to 10, (tent city) is a 10.”
“They treat us well and help us with our immigration papers,” Contrera added. “It’s so much better than the other shelters.”
Still, not every migrant is setting aside downtime for FIFA matches.
“I don’t spend much time playing videogames because I want to find work to help my family,” said a Venezuelan who gave his name as Jesus.
“It’s mostly men from Venezuela, Peru and Africans.”
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texasstandard.news contributed to this report.