There is no doubt that soccer is the most popular sport in the world; it’s the most played sport – recreationally and professionally. Go to the streets in any country, do a couple of juggling tricks with the ball and see how big a crowd you will have around you. Soccer just commands attention that not many other sports can.
Dare to experiment with sports channels on TV during soccer season; you will find this beautiful game on every one of them and on 3.5 billion people’s screens. Europe hosts some of the most significant soccer leagues, from the Premier League to La Liga, the Champions League, and the Euros. We just witnessed Chelsea playing a spectacular game to take the Champions League cup from Man City; that was a match that attracted more than the 12 000 fans that were allowed in the stadium – pubs, bars, any place with a channel that could air the event world-wide, had a house-full. But, as much as it is popular in most countries, it’s a whole different case in the USA.
Comparing soccer to sports like baseball, basketball and American football is a non-starter. A matter of fact, it can actually be considered to be one of America’s least favourite sports. Soccer comes nowhere near the American big 3 in prevalence or dominance. The popularity of the Major Soccer League in America cannot be compared to that of European leagues, and I could bet that only a handful of people even know of the MSL. It’s almost offensive to think that half of the world goes crazy over this game, and Americans don’t see the fuss.
Here’s a more detailed comparison of US soccer and European football with regards to popularity, contribution to economies and player profiling.
A fact that draws a line between soccer in America and Europe is the calibre of players that each side has. For instance, take a look at the England Euro 2020 team. England has some of the biggest names in football. From Gareth Bale and Jadon Sancho to the blue-eyed boy, Harry Kane, the list is too big even to mention. Ranked the most admired and idolised player currently in England, Harry Kane is one of the best strikers of his time. We all know if the ball is at his feet, the chances of him missing a goal are very slim. In 245 appearances, the guy has scored 166 times. That’s an impeccable history for a 27-year-old.
You can’t mention any other name for Europe’s midfield except Toni Kroos. The German player dominates the central midfield position for his domestic club, Real Madrid and his national team. He is well known for his ability to supply and assist for a goal in the deepest part of the mid-field.
Europe also has the best of defenders. Hungarian player Willi Orbán is a centre back who gives any attack a challenge of a lifetime. The RB Leipzig player is a cornerstone for his national team and a key defender.
Over to the American side.
For their best forward, they have Jordan Siebatch. The 26-year-old might not fall anywhere close to Harry Kane, but he does not disappoint when it comes to scoring. He has a total of 43 appearances and has scored 15 times.
In midfield, they have Christian Pulisic, nicknamed Captain America. Pulisic is known for his pace that can change the game’s balance just like that. His speed has gotten him a record of 18 assists in 118 played matches, which isn’t too bad for a 22-year-old. He also made history at the recently ended European Champions League, being the first American soccer player to play in the league’s final, and win it.
America’s defensive side is held together by Sergiño Dest. The 20-year-old Barcelona fullback has a total of 45 appearances. At his age, not too many players get to play at this level with such a great team.
The research showed that the USA has a handful of good players, the most popular ones originating from other countries, mainly Europe.
I’m sure you are wondering why the US doesn’t uphold soccer in many regards as the rest of the world, and even more, why it’s not popular amongst themselves? The answer is pretty simple. Americans simply lead to the unpopularity of the sport themselves. Most of their effort towards sports is given to either basketball, baseball or their version of American football. When it comes to these three, soccer stands no chance against them; the people just prefer their native sports. As a result, input into building a strong soccer team is hindered because the people don’t support it.
The Americans prefer their version of football because it makes more sense to them than watching 22 people kick a ball around a pitch, apparently. They prefer their own football because it is action-filled and more aggressive. The idea of powerhouses fighting for a ball is just thrilling and exciting to them. On the other hand, soccer is less aggressive and hence, less appealing to Americans.
Contribution to economies
As much as the MLS is far less popular than the NBA, NFS and MLB, soccer greats such as Kalman believe soccer can greatly impact the American economy. Think of it, how many unemployed youths are out there and most probably talented in soccer? The problem now is though they are there, the popularity of the sport is not as high. It then makes it difficult for opportunities to be available too. If more awareness was raised, it would mean better chances for employment and a chance to also contribute to the economy.
Comparatively, due to the popularity of the sport in Europe, soccer stars are living lavish lives, and it is every youngster’s dream to be like them. The money that they get paid does not only cater for them but also for their respective countries’ economies through taxes. As much as they are highly paid or maybe over-paid as some think, a certain percentage of their earnings is diverted to the revenue of the economy, and it’s helping those who depend on government assistance through taxes.
Perhaps politics can be America’s saving grace; if someone who loves the game were in power, we think the tables could turn – who knows!