When it comes to soccer, the United States stands out. Unlike in other parts of the world, where soccer fans have established deep-seated communities and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation, American soccer culture is still evolving. Traditions like inheriting team colors and jerseys from parents and grandparents are not as prevalent.
The words of philosopher and former striker Eric Cantona in the film Looking for Eric perfectly capture the enduring loyalty that soccer fans have for their favorite teams: “You can alter your spouse, your politics, your faith, but you can never, ever change your preferred football team. Soccer fandom in the United States is still relatively new and not as generational as it is in other parts of the world. While American sports fans may inherit their family’s love for NFL or MLB teams, the options for soccer fandom are wide open. Why might a US-based fan choose to support? Which soccer stars do they follow, and how did they discover them?
The United States is arguably the final untapped and valuable market for soccer growth, with a large population of potential fans waiting to be won over. Despite the country’s broad passion for sports, soccer is still undervalued in the United States compared to its global popularity. Despite experiencing growth over the past two decades, soccer fandom in the United States still lags behind other major sports, with only 27% of American sports fans claiming to follow the sport. By comparison, American football is the most popular sport (52%), followed by basketball (43%) and baseball (37%). This is in stark contrast to the global popularity of soccer, which is estimated to have a fanbase of around 40% of the world’s population according to recent data. Other estimates suggest that this figure may be even higher.