Column: Why the 2022 World Cup Transformed the U.S. into a Soccer Nation

The starting 11 players of the USMNT pose for a photo before the World Cup.

Photo by: U.S. Soccer

The starting 11 players of the USMNT pose for a photo before the World Cup.

Brenden Selch, Student of Journalism

In America, soccer has consistently been one of the least popular sports to watch, with most Americans preferring to watch football, basketball or baseball. Prior to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, studies from Statistics and Data show that only 21 percent of Americans considered themselves soccer fans. Americans showed little interest toward the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, or American club soccer. This year’s World Cup in Qatar may have sparked a change in America’s attitude toward soccer and converted the U.S. to a soccer superpower.

The United States could be considered regulars at the FIFA World Cup, according to NBC Chicago the United States has made appearances in 11 out of 22 tournaments.  But their main problem and possibly the root of their consistently average performances on the world stage is that they have little to no support from their country. The USMNT struggles to compete with European soccer superpowers, like England, France and Germany who’s citizens live and breathe soccer.

Even though many aspects of traditional American culture clash with soccer as a sport, the 2022 World Cup will turn the U.S. into a soccer nation. Large rises in Hispanic culture and influence in America will introduce many Americans to soccer. Also, views for soccer this winter in America have skyrocketed, crushing rating records.

Sports Journalist Paulo Confino said, “The U.S. prefers to export culture rather than import it.”  Americans are typically stubborn when it comes to letting people who are different, influence their life. They usually force others to become more like them, pushing American values and ideas on others. This is the largest reason why soccer has been shunned by Americans for years.

As America as a nation becomes more diverse, more foreign ideas and cultures will begin to spread. One culture that has breached into Americans and has had a significant influence on American sports fans are the Hispanics. Based on data gathered by Televisa Univision, a Mexican newscast, 84 percent of Hispanics follow soccer. As more and more Americans experience this culture soccer is bound to grow on them, increasing the numbers of soccer fans and players.

Even with the disappointing end to the tournament for the USMNT, the team’s inspiring performance in Qatar generated the most views of an American soccer game ever. Fox Sports, the primary broadcaster of the World Cup in the USA states that views of the USMNT have reached 16 million, 163 percent more than the last World Cup. 

Not only did the amount of people watching the American side increase, U.S. viewership of other games reached an all-time high with the Brazil-Serbia match earning the title of most watched, non-American soccer game (by Americans). Forbes lists U.S. interest in foreign games as a big reason why the U.S. may become a soccer country. 

With Hispanic culture pushing a soccer wave across the country, and T.V. ratings on local and foreign matches skyrocketing, it is only a matter of time before the United States becomes a powerful soccer nation.