Soccer is one of the biggest sports in the world, but its popularity still lags behind somewhat in the United States.
There are still plenty of football fans in the USA but American football and baseball are typically above the sport in the pecking order.
Across Europe, though, it is football that is the most popular sport, so why is this? Let’s take a look.
How football spread across Europe
The roots of football come from the 19th century, when the sport was played in England’s private schools.
From there, the people who came from those schools helped to spread the popularity of the sport as they travelled across the continent.
The popularity of football in Europe to this day owes much to those people, with the working classes particularly adopting the sport as their own.
This is due to the fact it is so accessible, with all the equipment that is really needed being a ball. Any area can be used as a pitch and goalposts can be assembled by just about anything – like jumpers for goalposts.
However, soccer did not catch on quite as rapidly in places where English culture was rejected, for reasons such as the country acting as an oppressing or occupying force.
This helps to explain why in nations such as India football lags behind sports such as cricket in popularity terms.
Football in the USA
The history of the United States means football did not spread there quite as quickly as it did in Europe.
Rules of the sport have also been cited as a reason why sports fans in the USA have perhaps not taken to football.
Factors such as the speed of the game and the relative lack of goals compared to a sport like American football, where touchdowns are more common, can help to explain why soccer is not quite as popular.
Leagues have also been slow to catch on with Major League Soccer still failing to meet the same standards as those seen across Europe despite stars such as Thierry Henry and David Beckham playing in the league.
The future of soccer in the USA
What is clear now is that the future is brighter for soccer in the USA, which hosted the World Cup for the first time in 1994.
That tournament was seen as a success in bringing football to the masses and another World Cup will soon be coming to North America.
In 2024, the USA will jointly hold the tournament along with neighbouring nations Canada and Mexico.
With more and more children in America playing soccer at schools, this World Cup should be another big moment for the popularity of football in the USA.
Latin America has already taken football to its heart in a big way, providing icons such as Pele and Diego Maradona to the world, and now the USA looks set to follow suit.
Stars such as Christian Pulisic, the American forward who has played for Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea, should help to boost the sport even further in the USA during the years to come.