World Cup Market Penetration in the USA and Beyond

Without question the most popular sport in the wider world, football - known in the US as soccer, is finally showing signs of attaining lasting popularity in the USA. Nowadays the MLS has actually surpassed the National Hockey League as the 4th most popular league in the country, and is now also the third most attended sport overall, behind only the NFL and MLB. Of course, when it comes to international soccer, Team USA hasn't always delivered the goods.

To date the national side's best results in the World Cup came at their first appearance in 1930, where they finished third. Following an impressive 1-0 upset against England in 1950, the squad failed to qualify again until 1990. Since then, the team has been steadily building momentum and has qualified in every World Cup save 2018. Now they're back for 2022, and hopes are high. Ultimately, soccer is a sport that the historically insular US sports market can no longer afford to ignore, and Team USA's qualification in this year's World Cup, due to take place in Qatar in November, is slated to draw the highest viewing figures yet achieved by an international football event in the US.

Golden facade in Qatar
Photo by Visit Qatar on Unsplash

Parallels with India

America's journey to wider participation in international soccer is also echoed by other nations, such as India. Sadly, the Indian national football team, affectionately known as the Blue Tigers, failed yet again to pass the qualifying stages in their World Cup campaign this time around. When analyzing why the country historically has failed to gain a significant purchase in the top flight of the soccer world, a picture in many ways similar to the US emerges. Whereas soccer is unanimously the most popular sport in most countries around the world, in India it lags behind Cricket, Field Hockey and the domestic sport Kabaddi.

This is much like how the MLS is still playing catch-up to the NFL, MLB and NBA. This leads to the national squad coming in as a lower priority for the country's sporting bodies, and for Indian sports fans alike. In spite of this though, Qatar is expected to attract the highest number of Indian attendees of any in history. This is perhaps unsurprising given the relatively short distance between the nations, making travel arrangements accessible to many soccer fans from the sub-continent.

Indian home spectators are also certain to contribute to the bumper global viewing numbers of the upcoming event, and their tuning in is likely to contribute significantly to what one Qatari committee secretary, Hassan Al-Thawadi, said are a host macroeconomic benefits that India will receive by way of the winter tournament.

One key vector for this is through the burgeoning sports betting market in India, which experiences parallels once again with the rolling wave of legalizations of sportsbooks in the US in states such as NJ and Nevada. Those Indian soccer fanatics seeking to place wagers from the group stages onwards will be able to make use of the best football betting sites, such as those collated and provided by Asiabet.org, to back their favorites. This service, one of the best established and most reputable in the region, has reviewed and assessed over 100 individual sportsbooks furnishing soccer die-hards with odds and picks on the upcoming event. What's more, with a comprehensive run-down of the various bonuses and promotions offered by each, such platforms are ensuring fans on the sub-continent will get to kick off the event in fine style in spite of having to miss out on their own national squad's attendance yet again. India have competed in international soccer since 1950, but have only qualified once on a technicality. That the growing nation will eventually find themselves in the running is inevitable, but when exactly that may be is anybody's guess at present.

World Cup trophy
Photo by Rhett Lewis on Unsplash

Spectacular Numbers Globally

The sheer size of the untapped market in the US is the core reason why investors and sponsors are doing everything they can to push international soccer across the nation. Consider that the average attendance numbers for the Super Bowl are just north of 90 million people, whereas the 2018 World Cup final was watched by around 1.1 billion. Over the course of the 2018 World Cup it was estimated that over 3 billion individual spectators tuned in to witness its play-off brackets. This number is projected to grow to over 5 billion for this year's event, as new markets, greater saturation and broader internet access all come together to make watching its games more accessible. This is a staggering number, and represents nearly half of humanity.