looks at the reasons why football or 'soccer' doesn't have any
impact in the USA.
man Simon Husbands, lives and works in the USA. Below he analyses
just why the USA doesn't like footy.
By Simon Husbands
it’s all over – the dust has settled, the World Cup has been put
to bed and we can all move on with our lives again, now that the
roar of the crowds and the blood, sweat and tears of our soccer
heros have been allowed to drift into the annals of history.
Why does the USA ignore football?
And one of those
teams, a team that came out of nowhere to make it to the last 8
by playing like heroes, quietly returned home and slipped back into
their normal lives.
experience defeat in the World Cup.
The odd thing
about this was that this team of heroes represents the largest and
most powerful country in the world – the USA.
Where was the
ticker tape welcome home parade, the flowers, the TV and celebrity?
Where were all those things? Well, they simply were never bestowed.
The reason? America doesn’t care for it’s national soccer sons.
Football and politics
Osama Bin Laden
and I (and the rest of the world too) have something in common.
A love of the game. Osama would go and watch Arsenal whenever he
was in the UK. Maybe he saw the Gunners play Forest.
In the aftermath
of September 11th, the videos showing Osama revealed him discussing
a soccer dream where the Taleban defeated the US Soccer team, and
one can’t help wondering if this might be a great way to solve differences.
Osama was probably glued to his TV set with everyone else for the
national football coach Bruce Arena, was unlucky not to take
his team to the World Cup semi-final.
all over the world know the power of soccer, and the power a game
can have on the people – and so it’s odd that America couldn’t seem
to care less.
I was brought up on footy. I would walk from our house in West Bridgford
down to the City Ground, sometimes sneaking in at half time, sometimes
sitting with my Grandpa, who was 90 years old before he gave up
his season ticket.
The atmosphere was so heady, and I watched all the great heroes
play – Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Greaves, George Best – and went to
bed with a colour photo of the 1966 World Cup winners taped to my
I live now a
long way away in a country where many many kids are brought up on
football too – but I doubt any of them have a poster of the 2002
USA squad on their walls. And the reason for that is many faceted.
is not big business over here, simply because there are too many
other sports that have risen in popularity over the years – baseball,
American Football, basketball, ice hockey – all HUGE sports. If
you’re a sports fan, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day
to be able to ‘do’ all the sports you could.
days, in the rest of the world, children are almost born on
the soccer pitch, kicking stones and cans, and using jumpers
for goalposts. Isn’t it?"
not attract big money – and so young players with talent are not
tempted to become soccer professionals. Audiences at the professional
games rarely exceed 15,000 and games are not televised.
A big push
by the Major League Soccer to capitalize on the World Cup does not
appear to have worked – Americans did not like having to watch sweaty
soccer players swapping shirts at 7 AM as they ate their breakfasts
– it was unhygienic for starters – so the TV coverage became sketchy
at best. The more games the team won, the less people watched!
America likes winners. The team are not winners in the eyes of the
nation – because, well most folk don’t know anything about them
and they didn’t actually win anything. And for the rest of the world,
the World Cup was a great chance to treat America like a second
Thirdly – Soccer
in America has a reputation for being a ‘feel good’thing – rather
like apple pie and sitting on the beach doing nothing. It doesn’t
have that edge that baseball has, and therefore neither the audience.
and Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper, Brad Friedel.
There is that
breed of so called ‘soccer Moms’ who spend a third of their lives
watching little Brad play soccer, then packing him and the other
kids off to the next game or practice in a never ending cycle of
parental support and family values. Great for family, bad for business.
I spoke to a
youth soccer referee here that loved soccer but knew absolutely
nothing about the US side.
I have met no Americans who followed the Cup except one guy I got
talking to as we boarded a plane – it turned out he loved soccer,
and used to be a youth soccer coach himself – a job he got into
because 20 years ago no one knew how to do it, so he bought a book
and taught himself how to play – how to kick, how to head, what
offside was, and other things we soccer mad nations take for granted.
These days, in the rest of the world, children are almost born on
the soccer pitch, kicking stones and cans, and using jumpers for
goalposts. Isn’t it?
So how does
America get to achieve world status in soccer? It all boils down
to business, sadly. Once corporate America decides it can make money
by promoting soccer, then it will happen – but it’s a catch 22 situation.
Talented US players need the higher wages and competition in their
own homeland (a quarter of the US World Cup soccer squad play for
British teams – there are only 10 professional teams in the US,
recently reduced from 12!), and they need to be able to face the
rest of the world with their heads held high.
Until the financial backing for wages and training and the whole
hoopla of Soccer happens here, players are going to look to other
countries or even other sports to give them the jobs they want –
sadly, even after their performance in the World Cup, Big Business
may still not care. Who wants to promote a loser?
So whilst kids in Bridgford will grow up hearing the sound of the
crowd as Forest knock one into the back of the net, kids in the
US play their soccer games in front of their Moms and Dads, counting
down the time until they either give up playing or become seduced
by baseball or American Football. The American Dream does not yet