With billions of dollars of business generated by this event, it’s clearly a global centerpiece for the sporting world. And, for people who absolutely obsess over soccer. Or football, as some call it in their home countries.
An interesting little article on the Freakonomics site shared some stats that jumped out at me. Specifically, the site shares figures that indicated that the 2014 Super Bowl garnered over 110 million viewers, while the 2010 World Cup Final got just over 24 million. So, the big game in the sport we call football got 4 times more viewers than the big game (match?) in the sport much of the world actually calls football.
My Soccer Riot Experience
My eyes were opened to how popular soccer is in many parts of the world when I was in Europe when the Euro 2000 was going on. I had never heard of this European Soccer tournament, but apparently it’s a massive deal there. At least it was back in 2000, as I found out when visiting France.
To make a long story short, I was at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris when I heard a huge roar come from the city below. It was odd, and I had zero clue as to what that could have been for. It almost seemed like some kind of earthquake.
Then, a few minutes later, right as I was coming down from the tower, there was a second roar. And then cars were driving around honking and people were out and about. Again, I had no idea what it was.
We got on the Metro, which was suddenly halted before we reached our destination. We were ushered out and had to walk the rest of the way, but ended up in the middle of a big crowd of people celebrating and going nuts. That was when I found out that France had won this tournament. Apparently, the first roar was when they tied the score at 1-1, and the second roar was when they scored the go-ahead goal to make it 2-1.
It was crazy. I even saw bottles thrown, and police with shields running. We ducked into a restaurant that ended up having its glass shattered.
Yes, I found myself in a soccer riot. Thankfully, we didn’t get hurt (though I did see a few people with injuries and lots of damaged storefronts). That’s when it dawned on me just how important soccer truly is to many people around the world.
My Current View of Soccer
Personally, I think the World Cup is cool. My interest in it has grown, and I certainly want my home country’s team to win. Go USA!
However, it just doesn’t captivate me like other sports might. I’m not yet at the point of caring much about the other games, and don’t pay much attention to any other game not involving the U.S. I do find it fascinating just how passionate much of the world is about soccer though.
Put it this way: I’m almost embarrassed to admit that if I had to spend money on a ticket to a pro football playoff game or a World Cup game, I’d choose the pigskin over the soccer ball any day.
Why is that? This just isn’t something that will compel me to spend much time or money. I think it might be because when growing up, many of us were just kind of taught that the most important sports were football, baseball, and basketball. Maybe hockey in northern climates. And some people like to golf or play tennis. But soccer was something people may have played in childhood and that’s it.
At least that’s my theory.
But I see things changing just a bit. More people, this time around, are truly focused on how the U.S. does. I even hear conversation about other countries matches, which wouldn’t have happened in the past. This seems to be getting mainstream.
Maybe as more kids are influenced by this, it will change more. One of my kids is in soccer now. Really though, I think that the U.S. team making a serious run could change things long-term.
Then, maybe more money and time will be spent on the World Cup here at home.
What do you think?
What’s your level of interest in the World Cup?
In terms of your willingness to spend time or even money on this event, how does that compare to other events (such as the Super Bowl, for example)?
What do you think it will take for this to become as important in the U.S. as it is around the world?