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June 8, 2010

The melting cup

by Masha Lafen, Online Sports and Entertainment Editor
According to USA Today, American fans have purchased the highest number of World Cup tickets compared to any other country except for the host nation South Africa. American fans have purchased about 120,000 tickets, beating out the more uniformly enthusiastic football fanatics of England, France and Germany. As a citizen of a country in the midst of baseball season, pro-basketball games and ice hockey playoffs, this came to me as a surprise. But as it turns out, South Africa is attracting Americans who are faithful to other national teams in addition to the U.S. As the World Cup warms up, the diverse set of team loyalties blends to create a fan base that's radically different from homogeneous fans of the reputed obsessive soccer nations.

American fans are turning up by the hundreds of thousands to watch the World Cup. Courtesy of Getty Images
American fans are turning up by the hundreds of thousands to watch the World Cup.
The greater enthusiasm for soccer across the nation in recent years is but a minor contributor to America's World Cup frenzy. More and more kids have played soccer in past decades than before and now are old enough to be raising a second generation of mini, cleat-donning footballers. Still, that doesn't really tell us who is buying the tickets to watch the world's most popular sports tournament. The most likely explanation is the increasingly diverse body of American fans - new Americans with strong soccer roots in their "home" countries who will root for other teams such as Mexico, Argentina, Cameroon, Ghana or South Korea, in addition to the U.S.

Personally, I am a soccer fan who has always been disappointed by the way Americans disregard soccer for football, baseball and basketball, as well as by the low performance of American men's team. But after learning that the U.S. surpassed foreign soccer-crazed countries in ticket sales, I began to consider the possibility that the way Americans root for other countries is a positive reflection of the diversity of the country. This phenomenon is reflected in the current U.S. World Cup team; most players on the team were born or have soccer-crazed nations on several different continents.

Like most Blazers, I appreciate the daily diversity of our school environment. It therefore brings a smile to my face that a Blair-esque world of Americans with roots in many nations and continents is finally making the U.S. a global soccer power. This is not happening through more effective marketing of the game to NFL or Nascar fans; instead, this is occurring by the simple and wonderful process of new Americans becoming prosperous and bringing their taste and loyalties in soccer to the country. As a long time lover and player of the sport, it is nice to know that fans' loyalties are as diverse as the country itself as we approach this year's World Cup.



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  • NK (View Email) on June 8, 2010 at 11:58 PM
    It's good to hear that there is such great interest and enthusiasm in soccer/"real football" in the United States.
    Now, if only the same could be said for cricket...
  • Jim (View Email) on June 9, 2010 at 4:05 AM
    There will be more English than any other country. Many will travel without a ticket just to follow the national team as with any other trip. This is the mark of true fans
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