Soccer’s 90 Minutes of Fame

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Rob Yunich:

The sad reality is that soccer in the United States, despite any momentum gained from the just-concluded Women’s World Cup, will still be the sixth most-popular sport in the country behind the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and Nascar. (Golf and tennis might be ahead of it too.)

The last time the U.S. made the Women’s World Cup final, the so-called momentum from the event led to the establishment of the Women’s United Soccer Association, which lasted all of three years. The league’s current incarnation, Women’s Professional Soccer, has struggled with attendance and has only six teams.

On the men’s side, Major League Soccer is in its 15th season, but the average attendance last year was just 16,675, and its games are barely recognized in the scope of American sports.

Soccer is king in Europe, where stadiums are bigger and futbol (as it is called there) is generally the only sport in town. In Spain, one of the best leagues in the world, the average attendance for La Liga’s 2010-11 season was 28,399, but superpowers FC Barcelona (78,540) and Real Madrid (68,123) had average crowds that rivaled those in the NFL.

Ditto other powerful franchises, including Manchester United (75,109) and Arsenal FC (60,025) in England; Bayern Munich (69,000) and Borussia Dortmund (79,250) in Germany; and Inter Milan (59,484) and AC Milan (53,916) in Italy.

But here in the U.S., soccer only takes center stage during the World Cup. In 2014, the event heads to Brazil and the following year, the women will take center stage again in Canada. But no matter where the world is watching its favorite sport, American fans seemingly won’t be as excited about “the beautiful game” as fans in Europe or other parts of the world.



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