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MLS: The Analysis of Popularity of Football Among Americans

Once you enter the US, some words start having a different meaning, so talking about football, means talking about the NFL. If you want to talk about football as it is known in Europe, you need to say soccer.

The most popular sport in the world has been struggling to make it to the front pages of sports magazines in the US for a long time. American football, basketball, baseball, and hockey have been the four most popular options.

Simply put, Americans always loved something different when it comes to entertainment, and especially when it comes to sports. They love playing slots, such as the ones at Come on, and prefer betting on their national sports leagues, as well as college leagues.

Yet, it seems that there’s still hope for football in the US.

The Data Suggests Improvement

In a 2018 poll conducted by Gallup, a total of 7% of Americans stated that soccer is their favourite sport. Compared to baseball’s 9%, it’s safe to say that the two are actually much closer in popularity than what many people thought.

MLS — Major League Soccer — is a professional top-tier soccer league in the US, for which Nielsen Sports reported a rise in popularity of 27% in the period between 2012 and 2018. Moreover, the officials of the MLS decided to expand the total number of teams that compete in the league in the future, with the current number of teams standing at 30.

One of the reasons why MLS experienced such a growth in popularity is because some major stars have made more room for football in the US sports industry. More than a decade ago, it was David Beckham who attracted a lot of attention.

Many agree that his successor was definitely Zlatan Ibrahimović, who did not take long to win the hearts of many Americans and get them interested in watching soccer. Apart from Zlatan, Wayne Rooney also decided to play in the US, meaning two football superstars were brought from overseas.

When they are at the peak of their careers, the majority of football players prefer playing the game at the very centre of this sport — Europe. However, it’s become common that many of them go to the US or China after their prime in order to compete in less competitive leagues (but continue earning good wages).

More Stats about Football in the US

Major League Soccer recorded an average attendance of 21,358 spectators between 2013 and 2018. Compared to the rest of the world, it is currently ranked at No. 8. As a matter of fact, the average attendance is similar to that of French Ligue 1, and football is the most important sport in France, as it is in the rest of Europe.

The club that recorded the best average attendance in the US is Atlanta United, which currently sits at 10th place worldwide with 51,547 spectators on average. In other words, the American club is right up there with some of the giants of the football world, such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester United.

To sum up, football may not seem important at the moment, especially for people in the US. However, its popularity is growing rapidly, and it even has the potential to take over baseball. Imagine what the future would look like with the US as another football superpower.