by Matt DeLaere, Marketing
Soccer has come a long way in the United States, and its influence is only growing. Since qualifying for the World Cup finals in 1990 (for the first time since 1950) the U.S. has hosted the World Cup (1994), seen the birth of a successful men’s professional league (MLS), a women’s professional league, women’s World Cup victories in 1999 and 2015, women’s Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012, and an 89% increase in participation in U.S. Soccer programs*.
The interest isn’t just with the home team, either. NBC features a weekly national broadcast of the English Premier League and carries live EPL games and analysis on NBC Sports Network. Fox Sports broadcasts games from the German Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League.
Now, with the sport’s surging popularity and still huge potential, the United States has been chosen to host the Copa América Centenario this June. This special edition celebrates the 100th anniversary of the tournament and marks the first time the competition will be held outside of South America. The expanded field of 16 teams (up from the usual 12) will include all 10 teams from CONMEBOL (the South American football confederation) and 6 teams from CONCACAF (the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football).
Games will be held in Seattle, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Orlando, Foxborough (MA), East Rutherford (NJ), Santa Clara (CA), Pasadena (CA), and Glendale (AZ). The teams participating are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela from CONMEBOL, and the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti, and Panama from CONCACAF.
With the excitement of an international tournament, and the passion of its fans, coming to cities from coast to coast, soccer’s popularity in this country is sure to continue to rise.
Be ready to decorate team uniforms and fanwear (not to mention fashion wear) with soccer-themed transfers from The Wild Side, designs from Great Dane Graphics, and pre-cut and pre-spaced personalization options from Stahls’. More than 24 million soccer players in the United States (a number that’s constantly growing) will thank you.
*Source: Soccer by the Numbers: A Look at the Game in the U.S., www.nbcnews.com