Soccer – The World’s Most Popular Team Sport
One of the easiest questions to answer is, “Which is the most popular team sport in the world?”. It’s not cricket, it’s not baseball nor rugby nor basketball. It’s soccer or football as it is widely known across the world. As someone put it, “if baseball is the prince of team sports and cricket the king, soccer is the undoubted emperor”.
So, how popular is this sport? Before I can answer this question, let us briefly look at soccer’s history.
The History of Soccer: Many cultures claim that soccer was their piece of invention. The Association Football or the standardized football that we know today was only born in the mid-nineteenth century in England. But, where do the actual roots of this sport lie?
- If historians are right, the credit for the invention of football must go to the Chinese. Records suggest that the Chinese used a leather ball to play which was struck into a cloth tied between two poles. This game was called Cuju and it is known to have existed 200-300 years prior to the birth of Christ.
- The game was also evolving at the same time in South America, but it was a combination of both the modern day basketball and football. The Mesoamericans used a rubber ball (pretty hard to control) which was to be kicked into the basket with their feet (probably one reason why the South Americans are so good in this sport).
- Romans also had an equivalent to this game called the Pheninda which was a combination of the modern day rugby and football. This game had no rules as such and most players who were involved in the sport suffered a lot of injuries.
- After all the brutality and injuries, we have the modern day soccer today governed by the body FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) which came into being in 1904. FIFA was actually formed in Paris and in French FIFA means Fédération Internationale de Football Association. The above mentioned full form is the English equivalent of the same.
Why is Soccer So Popular?: The answer to this question is also pretty simple. All one needs is a ball and one can begin to play. No other apparatus or gear required to play this game. Even if there is any equipment involved, it is inexpensive. This is the very reason most people across the world love to play this sport.
How Popular is Soccer?: Take a look at these statistics-
- 3.3-3.5 billion fans spanning across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia
- the 2006 FIFA World Cup had an overall viewership of 26 billion with the final match alone gaining a viewership of 700 million
- the 2010 FIFA World Cup had an overall viewership of 30 billion with the final match gaining a viewership off 800 million
Just looking at the 2nd and 3rd stats, one can see that the popularity of the sport is only increasing year after year.
This is the very reason, FIFA is the richest governing sporting body in the world, Manchester United-the richest FC and the richest franchise in the world and Galatasaray (a Turkish football club) which has 500 million facebook fans- the most popular sports team in the world.
The EPL and the UEFA tournaments have more than half a billion people watching the tournaments every year. This is only expected to grow in the coming years.
Enough reasons as to why this is the most popular team sport in the world. Hail soccer!