Why soccer is more popular in Europe than US

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Washington, May 23 (ANI): With the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament beginning on June 11 in South Africa, the question as to why the game is not so popular in the United States arises.

Stephan Schindler, PhD, professor and chair of Germanic languages and literatures in Arts and Sciences, who has taught courses on the global culture of soccer, says that several reasons exist for this phenomenon.

"In the United States, football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey compete with each other and it is difficult for soccer to gain any momentum in this crowded sport space," Schindler, also professor of comparative literature and of film and media studies, both in Arts and Sciences, said.

He said the moment soccer became known as a working class sport, around 1910, it was associated with labour unions and even socialism and thus was unacceptable for many Americans.

"Although there is enough corporate sponsorship available, and although many young Americans play soccer, there is not the kind of local identification with a team that drives European soccer," Schindler said.

"For an American audience, soccer might be considered boring because of its low scoring and there aren't many statistics available for individual players, compared to baseball, for example. In soccer, the team counts more than the individual player," he explained.

While popular support for soccer has remained stagnant in this country, the game has exploded as a worldwide attraction.

"I think the game is so popular because the rules are simple, one only needs a ball to play and games can be played with any formation of players, from two to dozens," Schindler said.

Also, in Europe especially, soccer teams enjoy incredibly loyal local support.

"Soccer in Europe has almost a religious following," Schindler said.

"The sport is organized into club teams that belong to a neighbourhood and teams represent value systems or local identification," Schindler stated.

For example, the Glasgow Rangers are considered Protestant, while the Glasgow Celtics are Irish Catholics. Real Madrid represents the rule of the house of Castile, while the FC Barcelona team stands for the repressed Catalan minority.

"When these clubs play each other more than just soccer is on the line," Schindler explained.

"Fans of all ages and gender follow the victories and defeats of their teams throughout the year. Entire communities can experience collective depression after a defeat of their team," he said.

This same alliance is repeated on the national level.

"After Germany defeated the Netherlands at the 1974 FIFA World Cup, the entire Dutch nation fell into deep depression which left a scar that was only overcome when the Dutch team defeated the German team at the 1988 European championship," Schindler added. (ANI)

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