With the World Cup ending this week, Savanta wanted to determine just how much potential there is for the rise of World Cup soccer fandom coming from the US to continue into 2023 and beyond. Savanta surveyed 1,100 Americans and found that 61% believe watching Team USA made them feel more connected to the game of soccer.
This sample consisted of 500 non-sports fans, 300 sports fans excluding soccer (which we’ll call “general sports fans”), and 300 soccer fans to learn about their connections to Team USA and soccer during the World Cup. Here is what we found.
61% of Americans who watched the World Cup believe Team USA made them feel more connected to the game of soccer and 60% are very compelled to the players on Team USA’s roster.
Creating a US soccer community
*This survey was fielded one day prior to Team USA’s Round of 16 match against the Netherlands so only the 3 group stage competitions were played when this data was collected.
Of those who watched Team USA (non-sports fans, 18% / general fans, 55% / soccer fans, 55%) many took time out of their daily lives to make an event out of it by attending/hosting at least one Team USA watch party. General sports fans and soccer fans who watched Team USA were most committed to connecting with others during the World Cup. Of those who watched, One-third (31%) of general sports fans attended/hosted parties compared to 40% of soccer fans. Most of these parties took place inside of people’s homes or at public bars. For soccer fans, 50% hosted one at their home and 35% attended one at someone else’s; 45% of soccer fans who participated in a watch party went to a bar. Of the general sports fans, although less of them participated, those who did really did not fair too much from soccer fans. The only key distinction is that general sports fans were more likely to be found at someone else’s home (55%) rather than hosting at their own (38%), suggesting this is an area where the two groups could have intertwined. One third of the general sports fans who went to a watch party found themselves at a bar.
Team USA’s impact
The loss to the Netherlands on December 3rd marked the end of Team USA’s run this year, but data suggests that the golden age of American soccer has only just begun. Americans who watched this team in the World Cup really enjoyed what this group brought to the table and feel very optimistic about their chances to compete globally in the upcoming years. Of Americans who watched Team USA in the World Cup, 69% were very satisfied with the team’s performance, 61% believe Team USA made them feel more connected to the game of soccer and 60% are very compelled to the players on Team USA’s roster.
The future of soccer in America
The optimism surrounding the future of the US Men’s National Team is well deserved, with this team being the most talented group they ever had. 13 players on this year’s roster are currently playing professional club soccer in top European leagues, the most ever by any US Men’s World Cup team.
That being said, the pressure for Team USA is higher now than ever as the 2026 World Cup is set to take place in the United States. Americans who watched this year expect more out of the team moving forward to the next World Cup and other major competitions. 70% expect Team USA to continue to compete at the highest level globally after this year and 59% of Americans who watched Team USA this year say they plan on doing everything they can to watch this team play in-person in the next World Cup.
Thinking more about the growth of the game, based off of Team USA alone there is incredibly high potential for steady continuation of soccer viewership in the US. Of those who watched team USA, 64% say they are more likely to watch a club soccer match on television if a member of Team USA is featured on one of the teams playing and 65% say they plan to follow Team USA in other international exhibitions and major tournaments.
Qatar and controversy
Outside of Team USA, there were many compelling themes about this year’s World Cup worthy of making headlines. For starters, due to the tournament being hosted in Qatar, this is the first time ever a World Cup will be played in the winter rather than the summer because of unplayable conditions. But this is far from the least problematic element surrounding Qatar and this year’s World Cup.
- Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers during stadium construction
- Social rights issues and ethics surrounding the LGBQT community
- Potential corruption between FIFA’s selection of Qatar to be the World Cup host nation
- Beer and alcohol concession bans
It turns out many of these factors played somewhat of an impact in deterring people from watching. Of the total base, one-third say Qatar’s history of social rights issues caused them to feel somewhat or strongly deterred from watching. Half of soccer fans felt deterred from watching due to Qatar’s social and human rights issues.