International Soccer is the World’s Game

Written by Recreation Magazine on August 15, 2017. Posted in Global team travel, Soccer in germany, Soccer in holland

Brazil

England, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica, Germany, Sweden…what do all of these countries share? A love of soccer. It’s a love affair that still hasn’t entirely made its way to the United States, even if soccer has been “the next big thing” in the States for decades. It’s growing, but it’s not here yet.

European soccer is huge. The rules were written down in 1848 at Cambridge University in England, and ever since then there has been some form of organized soccer in England. Not surprisingly, its popularity moved across the English channel very quickly: To France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and eventually the rest of the world. By 1900, Italy had a national team and program. In 1930, the first World Cup was played, pitting national teams against each other from all over the world. Despite the rules being “officialized” in England, the tournament was dominated by the Americas, with Uruguay beating Argentina in the finals. The teams that are present-day powerhouses — like Italy, Germany, and Spain — were not yet forces on the international stage, although Italy hosted and won the 1934 World Cup.

It’s still hard to grasp the popularity of soccer, but to put it into perspective, an estimated 3 billion people watched the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. That was almost 50% of the humans alive on the entire planet at the time of the game. Approximately 1 billion saw the 2010 final in which Spain beat the Netherlands. The disparity between the two may be due to where rooting interests lie: South Americans were eager to watch the 2014 final because it featured Argentina and took place in Brazil whereas they may not have cared to see two European sides face off in South Africa in 2010.

In any case, it’s estimated that over 25 million kids play soccer every year and millions more play in pickup games on fields or streets with their friends. Perhaps the reason that Americans don’t play as much is that — according to stereotype — Americans are lazy and overweight. It’s hard to stay overweight while playing soccer: The average professional player runs approximately four miles per game, alternating between walking, jogging, and sprinting.

By playing soccer, these kids are creating good, healthy, exercising habits. As a result, residents of European, South American, and African countries are staying healthier than United States citizens. Teens who play sports are reportedly eight times as likely to exercise at age 24 as those who didn’t play sports as teens. Eight times!

Beyond the health benefits, soccer has become ingrained in the culture of countless countries. From smaller countries like Costa Rica, where towns of 200 people have soccer fields, to Spain, where two international powerhouse teams (Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid) exist in the capital city alone. Travelers can now go on soccer tours to various cities and countries. The AC Milan museum in Milan, Italy highlights the club’s storied history in the top Italian league and offers fans one-of-a-kind experiences with trophies and memorabilia.

Soccer is a money-minting machine. The United States will catch up eventually, but right now the global game is focused elsewhere.

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.