Who Has Qualified for the 2022 World Cup? The Answer Is…
by Tom Densmore
For more than a century, soccer has been the most popular sport in the world. It is followed by more people in the world than cricket and Formula 1 combined, and is by several orders of magnitude bigger than football. Even in countries like the United States, soccer is seen by many millions as the national sport, played at the highest level in world football.
To put this into context, imagine that a game of baseball is watched by more people than a soccer game ever was.
That’s incredible. But it isn’t exactly what’s happening.
In soccer, the World Cup is not seen as the most popular game in the world, despite a near-monopoly on televised play. After all, if you were asked to choose the world’s top-rated sports, soccer would be at the very bottom of the list, while football and baseball occupy the top spots. Even a casual look at the most popular sports shows that soccer is nowhere near the top three as it once was. Of the top 10 most popular sports, basketball is ahead of baseball, while football is three times as popular as soccer.
Soccer has been the world’s most popular sport for more than a century.
There are a variety of factors that appear to favor the game. In some countries, there is a strong association between soccer and nationalism, as there has always been in many parts of the world. In others, it’s a tradition, like in Argentina, or a belief system like in Russia, and other regions. Even in Canada, soccer was the most popular sport for decades, until the popularity of ice hockey took hold after the 1980s.
But the reason that soccer is the world’s most popular sport is simply that its popularity is so undeniable. We live in a society where most people have learned to accept it as the only game in town, and for many, the only time they see a game is when it’s on television. Soccer broadcasts on every major American TV channel, and is watched by millions of people every weekend, especially in cities like New York and Chicago.
We are, in the words of ESPN commentator Al