Skip to Content

Where Is Soccer Most Popular?

Soccer is known as a sport that has fans located all around the world. Seemingly every country has a national team, and it is a popular sport from grade school to the pro leagues. With that said, some parts of the world take the sport a little more seriously than others.

Where is soccer most popular? Soccer’s popularity is most notable in European countries like England, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and more. It also has a huge following in South America, most notably in Brazil and Argentina.

Early Growth In Europe

Modern soccer developed in England, and many countries in Europe found love for the sport shortly after they were introduced to it. There has never been a time where it has gone out of style, as the sport is as popular as ever.

This is where most of the money is as far as soccer club teams are concerned, so the best teams are almost exclusively in Europe. They get a lot of players from European countries, but recruit worldwide for the top talent. Every high-level soccer player in today’s game must prove themselves in a European league.

When a sport has a lot of history, there are generations of fans who are very interested in general. It seems like many teams have capitalized on developing fans during the early stages of their life. Fandom is passed down from generation to generation, which means that popularity is not waning anytime soon.

The Rise In South America

When Europeans arrived in South America in the 19th century, soccer slowly started to grow on the continent. Many believed athletes first played it in Buenos Aires, but that is just one of the many hotbeds in South America.

Brazil and Argentina are the two biggest soccer countries, but teams like Uruguay, Columbia, and Chile have all had recent success as well. The two big countries are legitimate threats to win every single World Cup, even if Brazil has been a little bit down in the last few years.

Lionel Messi and Neymar are just a couple of current legends of the game continuing the long line of South Americans standouts.

The popularity of soccer goes beyond just playing the game and grooming new star players. The fan bases in South America are very rabid, and that was on full display when Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014.

With so many competitions in soccer being held in Europe, getting a chance to watch world-class soccer on home soil brought out many fans.

Expanding Worldwide

Soccer is so popular in today’s climate that it takes a lot to find an area that does not have at least some fans overall. Yes, even those areas that were a little slow to catch on to soccer have to start to take off.

In China, the government was very against anything considered Western to take off in the country. Now that there is more access than ever, soccer is one of those sports that has become extremely popular.

It is popular for the same reasons that they took off in other countries, as it is an expensive play, fairly easy to learn, and exciting at any level. China is a bit of a sleeping giant at the international level, as they continue to pour resources into their system to become a power in the sport.

The United States is really seeing a popularity boom as far as soccer is concerned as well. The MLS is extremely popular domestically, even if they are going through some growing pains.

They have an exciting crop of younger players who some believe might make them competitive enough to do some damage on the men’s side. In women’s soccer, their National Team has never been better.

How Major Professional Leagues Influence Popularity

The most successful domestic leagues in the world are located in England, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. It should come as no surprise that all countries are very into the sport in general. Seeing the best up close and feeling the inspiration that they bring to the table makes a difference.

One of the unique things about domestic leagues is that everyone has their own area in the country that they support. Since teams are scattered throughout each country, people take pride in where they come from for the most part. Yes, there will always be fans supporting the most popular teams all over the country and the world, but there is something to be said for loyalty to the lesser known teams as well.

Domestic teams paying millions and millions of dollars to the top players gives younger players the drive to one day play at that level. Professional and semi-professional soccer players are located throughout Europe, all trying to make their way to the top. Players who are participating in a sport are without question going to only help with the overall popularity.

Why Is Soccer So Popular Worldwide?

The combination of a long history of the sport, ease of access, and players of all shapes and sizes having success at the highest level plays a role in why soccer is so popular.

Many developing countries have gravitated towards soccer as a way to stay active and play a sport that is played by everyone else around the world. Having that ability to emerge from a tough situation as a youngster, only to earn millions of dollars later as a professional, is a driving force for a lot of younger athletes.

Unlike sports such as basketball and American football, soccer players do not have to win the genetic lottery and be a certain size to excel. Lionel Messi is 5’7″ tall, and he has emerged as one of if not the best players of all time. Taller players can have success on the pitch as well, whether they are playing in the field or as goalie.

Representation goes a long way towards inspiring a new generation of soccer players. All it takes is watching a little bit of professional soccer at a high level to see several different countries represented. Younger players who see someone who looks like them will automatically be much more confident in their ability to get to the highest level.

Are The Soccer Hotbeds Changing Anytime Soon?

There are minor changes of power as far as soccer is concerned, but nothing too crazy at this point. There is a lot of money being poured into soccer in the Middle East, but they are mostly investing in teams that have a strong European presence.

Asia also wants to become bigger in the sport, so do not be surprised to see some of the richest teams throw money at top players to bring more legitimacy domestically.

The one sleeping giant that a lot of people are looking out for is the United States. While the MLS has grown considerably, some wonder if they will ever become a true standout league in the sport. They are bringing in top names, but usually after they have reached their peak in Europe.

There is enough money in soccer to make it worthwhile for some investors, and with the best players coming over to the United States, it could raise the sport’s popularity.

Overall, the countries that love soccer will not be turning away from the sport anytime soon. That means the sport will only grow as time goes on.

World Cups continue to do better and better with viewership, and access to club matches is better than ever as well. Soon enough, the answer to where soccer is the most popular will truly be everywhere.