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Has Soccer gained a stronger foothold within the US? (OP-ED)

The sports industry in the United States continues to grow robustly, with staple sports like basketball, baseball, and American football maintaining mainstream popularity. However, with the recent rise of other internationally popular sports like cricket within the country, will soccer finally develop a thriving fanbase in the U.S.? The answer is yes. Soccer is currently the most popular it has been in years in the U.S.

The exponential growth of soccer’s popularity in the U.S. can be attributed to several factors, the most significant being the changing demographics of sports fans. Modern American soccer fans are younger and more diverse than in previous years, primarily within Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Specifically, a 2023 Sports Innovation Lab study found that 55% of U.S. soccer fans are between the ages of 18 and 34.

According to Major League Soccer (MLS), around 30% of MLS fans are Latino. The increasing Latino population in the U.S. is one of the biggest factors in soccer’s rising popularity, thanks to the sport’s massive popularity within immigrant communities’ home cultures. Additionally, the spending power of the U.S. Latino community is rising. According to McKinsey & Company, U.S. Latinos are the fastest-growing GDP segment in the country and currently represent the third largest GDP growth rate globally, behind China and India.

“Latinos are becoming more influential consumers in the United States, and many brands, organizations, and leagues are benefiting from that, with soccer benefiting the most,” Isos Capital founder and co-CEO George Barrios told Sports Business Journal. “It will be important to continue to find innovative ways to engage fans on both sides of the MLS vs. Liga MX coin because success for both, in a way, is dependent on the other. A rising tide lifts all boats, and we’re seeing it throughout the U.S. when it comes to soccer, whether it’s the success and growth of the MLS, NWSL, U.S. men’s and women’s national teams, Liga MX, or European clubs.”

However, the rising Latino demographics aren’t the only reason for soccer’s increasing popularity. The recent success of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team has drawn significant attention to the sport. Furthermore, with the U.S. gearing up to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026, interest in the sport is expected to skyrocket.

It’s no wonder that many powerful executives are eager to invest in the growing U.S. soccer market; the potential is evident.

“We have data suggesting that with each passing day, growth in soccer interest is happening in the U.S. There are multiple times in a given month where MLS coverage, particularly Messi, and NWSL news have led Yahoo.com, the third most trafficked page in the U.S.,” Yahoo Sports president Ryan Spoon told Forbes.

“That will be heightened by these major global events and hopefully also heightened by some of the work we do together. But that ascension is happening,” he continued. 

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