At the height of the pandemic, a new TV show premiered: Ted Lasso. The American football coach turns heads when he decides to leave the states and coach a European soccer team.
The show led many people to fall in love with the fictional characters but also with the sport of soccer.
Our friends at Offers.bet decided to see how much Americans know about the sport compared to the rest of the world.
We surveyed more than 500 Americans and 500 people across the globe about soccer.
Everyone agrees that soccer is growing in popularity in the United States, and it looks like Ted Lasso may be to thank!
We chose to test everyone by asking a collection of questions about the rules of soccer and its history. People were asked questions such as how long a soccer match lasts and whether moves like a slide tackle are legal.
Of the 15 questions, Americans knew less about the sport than those around the world. International respondents guessed the answer to questions correctly 65% on average, compared to Americans, who got the right answer 57% of the time.
There was only one question more than 90% of Americans got right. It was about what part of the body cannot touch the soccer ball (Spoiler alert: it’s your arm)!
The international test-takers fared a lot better. We had people from Mexico to Germany, and even South Africa take this survey. The question people most struggled with was about the worst place for a goalie to kick the ball when they get a free-kick.
The answer to that is across the goal because it’s easier for the offense to potentially steal the ball and score.
World Cup vs. Super Bowl
Although interest in soccer (as well as in soccer betting) is growing in the U.S., American football still reigns supreme. More than half of Americans (53%) said they’d prefer to go to a football game over a soccer game. If Americans had to choose between the Super Bowl and the World Cup, 54% would choose the Super Bowl.
That’s not to say people aren’t planning to watch soccer. Nearly half (47%) of Americans say they are planning to tune into this year’s World Cup in Qatar. More than 3 out of 5 people (64%) around the world are also planning to watch the big competition in November.
The top World Cup team the U.S. is rooting for is, unsurprisingly… the U.S.! After that, Americans say they’ll be cheering for England, Mexico, Brazil, and Germany. Around the world, the teams people want most to win are Portugal, Mexico, Poland, England, and Spain.
America appears to have a soft spot for England when it comes to soccer. When asked about their favorite overall teams, Americans chose two from the U.S. and three from England (Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea).
Internationally, Manchester United was also at the top of the list, ranking second overall. However, the other top four teams were all from Spain and Portugal.
Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, survey respondents overwhelmingly agree there’s a difference between men’s and women’s professional soccer. More than 7 out of 10 Americans think men’s soccer is more popular than women’s.
However, Americans still cheer for both teams!
2 out of 5 said they cheer for both men’s and women’s soccer teams during the Olympics. That’s a lot different from people around the globe. 1 out of 4 international respondents said they only cheer for men’s soccer during the Olympics. Less than 3 out of 10 said they cheer for both men’s and women’s teams.
80% of Americans believe professional female soccer players should get paid the same as professional male soccer players
In May 2022, a landmark decision guaranteed equal pay between male and female professional soccer players in the U.S. Players have been fighting for the right for years after the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team won the World Cup in both 2015 and 2019, while the men’s team didn’t even qualify in 2018.
Nearly 80% of Americans believe professional female soccer players should get paid the same as professional male soccer players. However, 1 in 2 thinks it should be based on the win-loss record for teams, meaning pro soccer players should get better pay if they win more and lower pay if they lose more.
Professional female soccer players have definitely made an impact on the sport worldwide. Of the top five most popular female soccer players, according to the world, three are from the U.S.: Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Carli Lloyd.
As for the most popular male soccer players, four players made both the U.S. and World lists: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, and Luis Suárez.
Soccer is more than just a sport to many people.
Nearly one-third (30%) of people around the world say they like soccer because it’s part of their culture. Although soccer does not have a prominent role in American culture, 4 in 5 Americans believe the sport is gaining popularity in the U.S. That popularity is getting noticed internationally, as 72% of international respondents feel soccer is getting more popular in the United States too. In fact, nearly one-third (28%) of Americans surveyed said they follow U.S. soccer teams.
The top MLS teams Americans are rooting for include: the LA Galaxy, Atlanta United FC, D.C. United, New York City FC, and the New York Red Bulls. More than 2 out of 5 (42%) Americans have gone to a soccer game in the U.S. Only 6% of Americans surveyed have gone to a soccer game in Europe.
The “Ted Lasso” effect may be one of the reasons more Americans are taking up soccer. 1 in 5 Americans has watched the heartwarming show. 35% said the TV series got them more interested in soccer, and 22% have actually played soccer since watching it.
As Ted Lasso would say:
“If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”
In May 2022, surveyed 507 Americans and 512 people globally to get their feedback on soccer. The international respondents were from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Respondents were 47% female, 49% male, 3% non-binary/non-conforming, and 1% chose not to identify. There was an age range of 18 to 93, with an average age of 32 years old.
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