News Desk |
USA’s failure to qualify for the World Cup this year was just one of the many shocks this year in Russia hosted FIFA World Cup. Even though USA has always struggled with Football — or ‘soccer’, as it is known there — compared to other countries, it is quickly gaining a fan following, so large, that it may surprise even the most ardent soccer fan. Just recently, Facebook Watch, a video-on-demand service that is only available in US right now, secured a deal with one of the biggest footballers in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Facebook owned service will pay the soccer superstar $10 million for a 13 episode docu-series in attempt to spark interest in America. This is in addition to the scripted web series Facebook has bought from the Portuguese player’s newly launched studio, about a diverse team of high school girls from New York. So why is Facebook investing so heavily into the football player and soccer related projects?
While it is certainly true that the athlete is the most followed sportsman on Facebook with 120 million followers, the decision to partner with Ronaldo and finance such an ambitious project suggests that Americans are curious about the sport which has mostly been ignored in the States.
A Gallup poll revealed that 7% of Americans named soccer as their favorite sport to watch, this figure is good because it is the only figure that increased. whereas, other sports such as American football, basketball and baseball all showed declining numbers. The survey revealed that while older generation of Americans weren’t interested in the sport, 11 % adults ranging from 18-34 chose soccer as their favorite sport.
This number ties with basketball and is greater than the 6% of baseball. The US women’s national soccer team winning the 2015 world cup also renewed interest in the sport. 2015 Adobe Digital Index data‘s compiled data shows that social media buzz for some soccer events has been doubling every year. There are chances, Soccer will replace baseball soon as the third most popular sport in USA.
American television has also started broadcasting more soccer now. From 1996 US has had its own Major League Soccer teams and while they are known globally as one of the worst ones, in recent years more and more states have made their own teams. The number of teams from 1996 has grown from 10 to 23 and although it doesn’t seem all that great, it’s vital to know that there are several other leagues that are waiting to be commissioned.
This change isn’t something that’s been missed by foreign investors. David Beckham and his business partners are currently are in the midst of a deal which would allow them to build a 25,000- seat stadium, restaurant and retail space, and office park, hotels, soccer fields, a public park and a “golf entertainment facility” in Miami. The cost of this project is said to be about $1 billion according to The Miami Herald.
If the project entitled “The Miami Freedom Park” is given the green light by the Miami City Council it would be another sign that America has seriously started considering getting into Soccer and are finally giving it the importance it deserves.
Soccer is touted as the ‘sport of the future’ in America, and it has long since established itself as the biggest sport in the world. But while USA has largely been one country where football/soccer fever hasn’t been big, all signs seem to indicate that all that will change in a couple of years.