Last week FIFA, the governing body of soccer, chose the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. In the months leading up to the decision, a handful of competing countries including the United States presented bids in an effort to win the votes of FIFA officials. After two-rounds of voting, Russia and Qatar emerged as the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 competitions respectively. It was a crushing blow to the officials in the US Soccer Federation and sports enthusiasts across the country. However, the disappointment points to something positive for those heart-broken lovers of the beautiful game: Soccer is no longer on the back-burner of American sporting culture.
There’s no question that the soccer fan base in the United States is growing. Record breaking tv audiences, thrilling Team USA performances, and growing interest in Major League Soccer show the sport is indeed forcing its way into the American mainstream. With US youth soccer programs including over 3 million athletes, Soccer in America is set to be around for a long time. So, how is this vibrant fan base behaving online?
As one would expect, soccer enthusiasts have a strong online presence. They have a veracious appetite for news from around the globe about their favorite clubs and the web provides the best access. ESPN related terms account for almost a 10% share among all soccer searches. Established blogs theoffsiderules.blogspot.com, soccerbyives.net and newcomers like thirdkit.com have done a good job of establishing an identity for soccer culture in America.
Major League Soccer has also done its part of fostering the growth of Soccer in America. With world renowned players, expansion teams, and new soccer specific stadiums, MLS fans have a lot to be excited about.
Jerseys and branded products are popular with all sports fans, and it’s no different here. Although there was a definite boost during this year’s World Cup, online retailers like soccer.com and worldsoccershop.com are seeing healthy-year round traffic, due to fan’s interest in clubs from across the globe.
It was certainly disappointing when the United States wasn’t chosen as a host, but as you can see, Soccer in America is here to stay.