Has The Qatar World Cup Got Americans Excited About the Sport?
The Qatar World Cup featured a few solid performances from the USMNT, but Greg Berhalter’s men ended up crashing out in the Round of 16. Interest in the sport is on the rise in the USA, and many people tuned in to see Tyler Adams and co take on some of the world’s best players.
The next World Cup is in North America but, as it stands, hype is not quite at the level the United States Soccer Federation would like. More needs to be done to increase excitement prior to that event, as this will boost the national team’s fortunes as well as the success of the competition itself.
Football Viewing in the USA is on the Rise
For many years, football in the USA was way behind the more traditional American sports. The growth of Major League Soccer over the last few decades has helped to change that, though, and now there are more Americans than ever watching the sport. Indeed, according to the Mail Online, soccer is now more popular than ice hockey.
That’s some feat in itself, but it’s unlikely the sport will stop there. Analysts now believe that the beautiful game is chasing down baseball in third place within the US sporting popularity rankings. The bat and ball game has suffered in recent years, with the average age of fans now standing at 57 years old. The average age of soccer fans in the USA is 35, meaning that the latter has a much greater chance of longevity.
Many people are expecting the World Cup in the USA to give the country a huge boost and encourage more people to get into the sport, but it would also help if there was a greater interest prior to the event kicking off. This will most certainly be assisted by the recent £2 billion deal that NBC struck with the Premier League to televise games across the nation. There are also various other ways that football will be able to gain more supporters before 2026.
Numerous Marketing Opportunities for Football in the Country
The American links with the English Premier League have helped promote the sport in the country massively. There has been an influx of owners coming from American sports over the last few decades, with the Glazer family and the Fenway Sports Group notably owning Manchester United and Liverpool respectively. Chelsea were also recently purchased by American businessman Todd Boehly, and the San Francisco 49ers have a large stake in Leeds United.
These investors have been able to promote the English game in the USA through their other interests, and there are often crossover marketing opportunities between football and the NFL. A recent example of this was reported by the 49ers Webzone. There was a 49ers watch party held in Leeds city center, featuring numerous mascots from the NFL franchise. Leeds United players have also traveled to the USA to help raise awareness about the side among NFL supporters.
The fact that there are talented American players plying their trade in England is a massive boost for the sport in the USA as well. Adams and Brenden Aaronson are both making waves at Leeds United, and they are also coached by the American tactician, Jesse Marsch. All three of these names are hugely popular in the USA, and they have helped bring more fans to the Elland Road club. Christian Pulisic is another notable American star in the Premier League, although he’s not currently a regular starter for Chelsea.
The entertainment industry is proving to be a useful platform for pushing the popularity of football in the States. The All or Nothing series on Amazon Prime, for instance, has helped to endear people to Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and Arsenal so far. Games such as FIFA from EA Sports are another way for people to get into the sport.
One way that the USSF could help to promote interest in football in the years ahead could be to look for more franchising opportunities in other areas of gaming. The online casino market can often be a great way to promote films and television series, so it could easily do the same for sport. For example, at MrQ online casino, there are games based on Narcos, Ted, and Sausage Party. All of these reel-spinning slots help to raise awareness of their source material and draw more viewers in. If players see USMNT stars on the slots as well, they could be intrigued to learn more about them by watching the games.
Excitement Around the USMNT for 2026
One reason why interest in football may spike in the USA in advance of the next World Cup is because some people think that the USMNT will have a genuine chance of making it to the latter stages of the tournament. The side that entered the Qatar competition was one of the strongest-looking teams from the country in years, with a plethora of stars who will be in their prime by 2026.
Along with Pulisic, Adams, and Aaronson, the likes of Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Yunus Musah, and Timothy Weah will all be in their footballing prime by the time the next World Cup rolls around. Many of these stars are already making waves at their respective clubs, and it’s exciting to think just how good they will be in four years’ time.
These players also gained some great experience this year playing in the ultimate footballing competition. They came up against an incredibly strong England side and managed to hold them to a 0-0 draw, while controlling the game for long periods. They also battled against a stunning Netherlands side but ultimately lost to Louis van Gaal’s men. These matches will have given the US players some vital lessons about how tournament football at the highest level works.
The USMNT lived up to expectations at the Qatar World Cup this year, but they will be favored to go much further in the tournament’s next iteration. If the USSF can boost the sport more in the country preceding the tournament, the players will have a lot more support behind them.