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Soccer (Football) in America on the Rise With 2026 World Cup Bid

Fans of international soccer, or football as they probably call it, living in America have new cause for celebration. The United States, along with Canada and Mexico, just secured the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. This landmark decision by FIFA comes just eight years after the governing body of international soccer chose Qatar over the United States to host the 2022 World Cup. It will be the first time the United States has hosted a World Cup since 1994, when most of the college-aged kids playing in the 2018 World Cup were not even born.

By Luca107 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (],
from Wikimedia Commons

The United States’ successful bid to host should positively impact not only the U.S. Men’s National Team, but soccer in America as a whole. Fans of the sport living in the U.S. can get excited to see the sport prosper long before the tournament even starts. If you are a soccer fan considering a move to the U.S., now is a great time to make the change. Soccer has been thriving recently on American college and university campuses and with America’s youth.

The plight of the U.S. based soccer fan has been well-documented over the years. From waking up at odd hours to watch your favorite club or country take the pitch, to being forced to watch lower-quality football be played in person, even to seeing the U.S. eliminated in the World Cup Qualifiers, it seems like soccer has never quite caught on in the States. International football fans, and U.S. born soccer junkies used to be forced to the fringes of sports culture in America. But, this has been slowly changing over the years. Fans hope that the World Cup, and the excitement surrounding it, will spark more interest in the beautiful game in America.

In 1988, the United States Soccer Federation promised to create a legitimate professional league as part of the deal for FIFA to host the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. Major League Soccer (MLS) officially launched in 1995 and in its first season in 1996, the league had just 10 teams. Back then, you would almost never see soccer team gear anywhere. People just were not exposed nor interested in the sport. Although MLS took a while to gain traction, the league now has 23 teams and has made huge strides toward competing both with the NFL, MLB, and NBA and with international soccer leagues. Now it is common to see soccer jerseys worn out, especially around university campuses. The sport is played recreationally by people of all ages throughout the United States, and professional games are broadcast on television all the time. This, along with the fact that soccer is the second most played sport (behind basketball) among kids ages 6-18 in America (Wall Street Journal, 2012), illustrates that there has never been a better time to be a soccer fan living in the United States.

As far as the MLS is concerned, U.S. born players such as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey have become household names. But, arguably the biggest step in the growth of American soccer has been the arrival of international players in America. Notable megastars such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kaka, and most recently Zlatan Ibrahimovic have made the transition from various international leagues to MLS. This has caused a sizeable spike in the sport’s popularity in America. Further evidence of soccer’s growth in America is the fact that in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, more tickets were sold in the U.S. than the host nation. One can only imagine how a World Cup hosted in America will impact the sport’s popularity.

If your burning passion towards soccer (football) has held you back from going to study in the land of American football, Baseball and Basketball, fear no more - there is a place for you in the US with the rising popularity of the sport.

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