Sports fans all around the world list soccer as their favorite sport, and the numbers show that it is the most popular sport in the world. Whether it is people playing or watching, they love the sport affectionately known as “the beautiful game.”
While it is pretty much accepted that soccer is at the top globally, why is soccer the most popular sport in the world?
Many different factors go into why soccer is so popular. Not only is it accessible and easy to learn on a fundamental level, but there are enough nuances to intrigue a more sophisticated fan. The fact that star players come from all over the globe also gives everyone that childhood dream of one day being the best in the world.
That might seem like a pretty general answer, but the truth is, there are many reasons why soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Here are a few of the leading reasons why it is the king of sports.
At some point, everyone has played around with a soccer ball in their life. Even in the poorest countries where they might not even have enough money for a soccer ball, anything can be kicked around to simulate the game. It is the only real piece of equipment needed, which makes it one of the most inexpensive sports in the world.
The sport gets more expensive at higher levels, but that is to be expected. It does end up costing a good amount of money to play travel soccer and get the proper training to become a professional player. However, a lot of clubs will start investing in younger players if they see the potential. That can severely limit the burden some families have to take if their child shows promise.
2. Playable In All Conditions
Soccer is predominately played outdoors, but the weather does not have to be ideal to play the sport. There are matches that take place in the snow, in the pouring rain, or temperatures well over 100 degrees.
Having a sport that is playable at all times helps to grow the game. There are more opportunities for younger players to learn the game, and fans do not have to worry about potential postponement or cancellations nearly as much as some of the other sports out there.
From a fan’s perspective, teams do as much as possible to build stadiums that make conditions as comfortable as possible. Whether it is proper shade during the middle of the day, or even a retractable roof in some cases for inclement weather, it is fairly easy to take in a match compared to other outdoor sports.
3. National Pride
No sport bring sparks up national pride quite like soccer. Part of the reason why it has exploded globally is that there are so many different countries who believe they have a genuine chance of being a World Cup champion. Teams from all continents represent their countries in the biggest event every four years. There are also competitions within certain regions that allow teams to be the best from that area.
Competitive professional leagues are all over the world, and although they vary in levels of play, it is still professional soccer. Talent on the pitch is everywhere, and fans love getting behind their country and rooting for teams they can connect with.
A win for a country can have a significant impact for years to come. No other team sport has as many true contenders like soccer. When looking at other huge team sports, basketball is mostly dominated by the United States, with only a handful of countries in that tier below. Baseball is only popular in pockets of the globe. Soccer is played everywhere.
4. Fits Nicely Into Any Schedule
As sporting events become longer and longer, soccer has stayed pretty much the exact same for decades. That is because there are no timeouts or stops in the middle of a match, and it consists of two, 45-minute halves. Yes, there is a halftime and stoppage time at the end of each half, but every match is going to fit in that two-hour window pretty nicely.
This keeps things on schedule for those who want to take time off to see a match. Go to a baseball game, for example, and no one knows how long it is going to take. Some games take just over two hours, while others can take five hours or more. Even in sports with time, basketball and football can extend past three hours easily if there are a lot of timeouts, replays, injuries, and more.
5. Professional Leagues Everywhere
They are always going to be the richest and most powerful club teams in the world that have a ton of fans. Go to any continent, and there will be jerseys representing FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and more. However, apart from many other sports, even less successful teams got a lot of passionate fans, even if they might not get that much respect globally.
The United States is growing in large part because of Major League Soccer. There are professional leagues in the smallest countries in Europe, all the way to Southeast Asia. They might not pay as much or be as competitive, but there is professional soccer played everywhere.
6. A Team Sport With Massive Individual Stars
Soccer is all about the team, but that does not mean that there are not some true superstars in the game. In fact, it might just be the team sport that allows for a star player to be marketed more than any other option out there.
For starters, there is very little worn by soccer players, which allow people to identify the best players. In football, baseball, and hockey, players are stuck under helmets or hats for most of the game. This hurts individual marketing, and prevents fans from quickly identifying some players.
Soccer players who are true superstars can stand out and become international sports heroes. Not only are they marketing dreams because so many people watched their matches, but they are usually young, in shape, and physically attractive to help as well.
Since many soccer players spend time in different countries, having the ability to speak multiple languages helps with marketing as well. This all adds up to the best of the best becoming household names globally. There is a reason why some of the best players of all time are all known simply by one name.
7. Rich History
Some early version of soccer has been around for centuries, but it did not really start to take shape as the modern game until The 1850s. That still makes it one of the oldest sports, and with a World Cup that takes place every four years since 1930, it has built up quite a bit of history as well.
Everyone living today has grown up with soccer being a huge part of sports. Young athletes are aware that if they train and become one of the best, they will receive plenty of compensation for their efforts. Team fandom develops early on, and that is hard to find it fade away in any way.
Baseball and Cricket are two team sports that have been around for a while as well, but they do not have the same appeal globally as soccer. Basketball and American football are still catching up with their global growth.
It takes time to build a rich history, and maybe soccer will lose its advantage in the next few decades. For now, they still stand out.
8. Marketing Towards Kids
Every sport is trying to tap into the newest generation, but soccer does it better than most. Some of that has already been covered, whether it be the ease of play or building those fanbases thanks to nationality.
What people also need to understand is that something as simple as video games can keep children interested in the game and gaining knowledge overall. Whether it is the latest FIFA game from EA Sports, or Pro Evolution Soccer, this exposes children to games with very realistic visuals and play style.
In the most rabid countries for soccer, it is hard not to be exposed to some marketing. Restaurants have gear display on the walls, players make appearances in commercials and on television, and so much more. They have a lot of money to spend on marketing, and collectively, soccer does an excellent job of keeping their sport very popular. Again, it helps that the stars can be fully viewed, so even young children can quickly identify their idols.
How Is Soccer Determined As The Most Popular Sport In The World?
Soccer has the highest participation numbers, and their viewing numbers for the top events are unbeatable add a global level. It is estimated that close to 1 billion people watch the World Cup final every four years, and the yearly UEFA Champions League final can pull in 250,000,000 to 300,000,000 viewers as well. Having a global audience helps these numbers significantly, and it really does not have any comparison at this point.
Within specific countries, there might be other sports that have higher viewership. The United States is one example, as soccer still lags behind a few other sports. However, global dominance is certainly something that puts them at the top.
No sport really comes all that close to soccer, so do not expect them to give up their crown any time soon.