It raises ground-shattering chants and brings nations together, and you still ask why people like soccer?
Surprisingly, it is mostly the Americans that are intrigued by this age-long dilemma of sports. And why not? After all, we have so many “cool” sports here that we can’t decide which one we like ourselves.
Is it basketball, baseball, or football? Yeah, soccer comes in quite late on our lists here!
Though the 70s has been a revolution for soccer here at home that birthed our first women’s team, it’s still incomparable to how it’s hailed worldwide.
So, if you want to unravel the mystery behind such a wide-scale love for soccer, you’ve got to look outside the continent.
Whether you go South, cross the Pacific, or sail over the Atlantic, soccer becomes a religion. And if you really need an answer to why people like soccer, that’s where you’ll find it!
Why Do You Like Soccer?
My soccer fairytale began on parts of the map known as not-America. And so, it has always been the most prominent spectacle on the streets. That’s where it all begins!
And though I can’t put my finger on it when I fell in love with the sport, I’m sure it was somewhere between the two goalposts.
It was somewhere between watching the transcendent crowds at World Cups and finding/losing friends over FIFA. But quite frankly, none of us soccer fans have a definite answer to why we like soccer.
Because how do you explain your likeness or love for something? You like it because you like it!
All one can do to express their affection is to describe the features that attract us the most. And that’s exactly my idea here today as I take you through the lovable aspects of the beautiful game.
I can tell you how it began, where it grew to likeness, and when it became love.
And as I express my fondness of soccer on behalf of millions of other fans, maybe you’ll understand what all the hype is about.
So, let’s get started!
Where it All Began
Soccer is arguably the most popular street sport in the world.
Perhaps, that is attributed to its simplistic demands and easy-to-understand rules. Since offside doesn’t usually exist on the street rulebook, it makes the game even more effortless.
Whether you step outside into the street or show up at a park, you’re likely to see a mob of charged kids taking it out on the soccer ball.
And it is this early familiarity that breeds the likeness for soccer in most of us!
Nobody remembers when their first match or interaction with the soccer ball was. Kids generally have their first go at a soccer ball as soon as they’re on their feet.
Introduction to any sport at a young age builds a deep bond and a connection. But soccer is a much simpler sport for kids, and that’s why it is usually the first one to be introduced.
Professional soccer players start playing soccer as young as five years old and make their way up. It’s really all they’ve known their entire life.
And as fans and followers, we’re surrounded by conversations, matches, tournaments, and soccer merchandise while growing up.
So, in a way, it is the very first sport we’ve played and watched as a kid. Nostalgia and early acquaintances are the top reasons why people like soccer.
The highly competitive nature is another reason why we like soccer so much.
Unlike many other sports, most soccer matches are relatively low-scoring ones. A single mistake through the 90 minutes can cost you a match or a tournament as you lose 1-0.
Now, bringing that to the grassroots levels of the streets, local leagues, and school matches, the heat boils up.
It only takes a soccer ball, a couple of stones or slippers as the goalposts, and a 30 yards space for two teams to decide who rules the streets, school, or the sporting ground.
Sometimes, even a ball isn’t necessary during recess. Kids and teenagers will throw a bottle to the floor and pretend it’s the ball to settle a vendetta at recess.
The over-a-century old rivalry of El Classico and the Manchester Derbies are just a couple of examples of the same competitiveness growing out of hand!
When some African kids rolled up plastic bags and covered them with a thread to mimic a soccer ball, they showed us how simplistic the nature of soccer truly is.
Unlike other sports like baseball, basketball, and football, soccer doesn’t need special equipment.
You’ll see players jumping on the turf in sandals, slippers, shoes, and some even barefoot to get a competitive taste.
All you need is to know how to kick the ball and have an urge to beat the opposing team!
The Social Anthropology
The social anthropology of soccer is perhaps its most attractive feature.
The heated arguments at pubs and workplaces, the euphoric chants at the stadium, the billionaire lifestyle of soccer players, and unforgiving debates over the media are just to name a few.
What happens on the soccer pitch doesn’t just stay there. It follows you to your workplace the morning after, where you gossip over all the happenings.
The drama during the tournaments, biased referee decisions, and the rise to fame of the underdogs are unique to soccer.
You don’t want to be sidelined when you see everyone rooting for a favorite club or participating in local leagues. Since it happens pretty often around the world, it draws you into soccer.
If there is one thing nobody argues about soccer, it’s that it has the most energetic crowds at games. When the World Cup draws closer, people start flooding the country from all corners of the map.
Different cultures come together, and people rejoice under the flag of soccer and support their countries. This is something no other sport has to offer!
And God forbid, if you live in Europe or Latin America, there’s no way you can look the other way during big fixtures and are not tempted to make it to the stands at the stadium.
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FIFA should be held guilty for converting more soccer fans than all else combined!
The ultra-realistic and addictive video game has come a long way since its 16-bit debut in the early nineties. Every generation following the millennials grow up playing FIFA.
And while surfing through the career mode and having heated match-ups against friends, we all develop a love for soccer.
The ability to create a player in the underdog leagues and embark upon the journey to win the World Cup is a storyline very few videogames can compete against.
And if the gameplay and graphics do not intrigue you, EA Sports hits us up with a banger of a new release every fall!
But FIFA isn’t uncontested anymore. The cravings for soccer games have sky-rocketed in the past decade alone, and we now have worthy competitors for it like PES and the UFL.
Other than console games, a plethora of soccer games flood the mobile and tablet app stores!
These compelling games offer a perfect leisure activity for soccer fans. You get a deeper look into the tactics and strategies that come into play.
And in return, these unanimously work to make your love for soccer grow even deeper.
Though there are many soccer video games, i.e., PES, UFL, only FIFA takes the crown for representing soccer officially.
Since it has millions of live users at any given time, it is guilty of being a major reason why more and more people like soccer every day!
World Cups and Tournaments
The soccer World Cup takes the lion’s share of reasons for why we like soccer!
Every four years, billions worldwide stay glued to their TVs while thousands flood stand at the stadiums. It is the most major sporting event in the soccer world and is nothing short of sensational.
The fact that even the weak countries get to play against the sharks, and at times, beat them, gives a different meaning to the game of soccer.
In other sports, it isn’t usually challenging to predict the outcome of a fixture. But soccer World Cups have been proven to be the ultimate stage for the underdogs.
West Germany defeated Hungary in the 50s while still recovering from the effects of the world war that cracked down the sporting world!
Similarly, France beating Brazil in the 1998 World Cup against all odds made for another spectacle. The same spirit transcends to the leagues, and tournaments played on a club level.
Leicester winning the EPL in the 2015/2016 season while entering the table from relegation baffled not only the English soccer fans but gave undying hopes to all the underdogs.
And how can we not talk about Liverpool’s legendary comeback in the 2005 Champions League final? Stevie Gerrard’s side picked up the game from losing 3-0 at halftime to winning the European championship!
Such major upsets and the thrill of an unexpected outcome make you never want to miss a match. And let alone the euphoric emotions and goosebumps such matches give you!
Fantasy leagues are a relatively recent introduction to soccer, but a compelling reason to like and follow the game!
Most major soccer tournaments now feature a fantasy league. Every user gets a similar budget and gets on the task of making the best team with it.
Scoring goals, winning matches, clean sheets, assists, and players’ performance earn you points. The person with the most points at the end of the season gets an exclusive invitation from the league.
You get to meet the champions, get signed jerseys, and all that with a paid return trip, including accommodations. It’s everything to make you fall in love with soccer!
Because to get more points, you need to watch games, follow injuries, and transfer news. If you’re up to date with all affairs of the league, you’re in place for a good prediction!
The elements of underrated players play a crucial role here again. Getting a cheap player that no one else has who slams goals is the entire idea.
And that is something that compels you to follow and watch each and every game.
While being so engulfed in the fantasy league, you learn different strategies and dynamics of soccer. And that makes it even more exciting and attractive. Also, which brings us to our next point.
Understanding the Dynamics
We’re all familiar with ground rules for soccer. Each team has to get a goal in the opponent’s net. And the one with the most goals by the end of it wins the game!
Though you can’t use your hands, go out of the field, illegally tackle other players, or get behind the defending line. Not so simple anymore, is it?
The offside rule is by far the most controversial one. Also, it is the one most beginners struggle to understand.
However, other rules like yellow cards in tournaments, match-bans, and pass-back freekicks are where things get a little confusing. Since they’re all professional soccer rules, we don’t usually know a lot about them.
But if you’re surrounded by people who love watching and playing soccer, you’re bound to ask about one or two of such rules. Or, maybe about other dynamics such as zonal defending, tiki-taka, or counter-attacks.
Now, as you learn more and more about the rules, you start liking the game even more. Because you finally get to understand what professional players do on the pitch isn’t that simple!
Understanding different dynamics and rules of soccer make watching and playing it more interesting. You get to point out and use many of the things you learn here.
And they drive insanely impressive results!
For example, Mourinho’s Real Madrid made excessive use of counter-strikes. And it made for one hell of an entertainment. But more than entertainment, it made millions of fans for the club and the game!
And last but not least, the universality of soccer is something very exclusive and unique to the sport.
Soccer is a flagbearer of anti-racism and equality for all around the world. Players and fans are specifically reminded to be tolerant of others before a professional game begins.
And coming down to the club level, you’ll find people of different nationalities wearing the same jersey. You can see that from the blend of players in the EPL, Ligue 1, La Liga, and other soccer leagues.
Some English clubs have over 15 foreign players playing out of the 25 total in the squad. It brings diversity into the teams.
But what it also does is sign up fans from the countries and regions they sign those players from.
The entire Middle East and North Africa suddenly tuned in to soccer as Chelsea signed the star boy, Mo Salah. Later, he played for Liverpool and has bagged the EPL and Champions League both, he’s converted millions of soccer fans.
Moreover, there are only 8 UN countries that don’t have national soccer representation in FIFA. And that means the entire rest of the world gets a chance to make it big.
This possibility of reaching the top pedestals of soccer temps many people around the world to like, play, and improve their game!
Soccer Can Change Lives
Many sports share the same passion, spirit, rivalry, and competitiveness as soccer. But none have the poetry and magic there is in soccer to inspire!
Zinedine Zidane has single-handedly inspired the European generation of the 90s, including star names like Kante, Pogba, Draxler, Hazard, and Mbappe.
On the other side, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah rekindled big stage hopes for African soccer fans. Bagging the 2020 title and the Champions league showcased that all needed for stardom is an indomitable will.
But inspiring talent is not even where the highlights begin for the beautiful game!
Rewind the clocks a few decades, and you come across a legend that revived the city of Naples from the ruins of an earthquake, Diego Armando Maradona!
The Argentine shocked the world as being the most expensive player chose Napoli, a southern bottom-table club in Italy, as his home stage in 1984.
The bankrupt, poverty-struck, and crimes-infested Neapolitans united under the blue shade of their club to give the highest attendance at the stadium of that time.
The fiery 1986-1987 season that resulted in a double put the city of Naples on the map and a force to be reckoned with!
And here comes a story that throws anyone in disbelief. Because it wouldn’t be easy for you to comprehend how a mere sport can put a civil war on hold!
The name Pele achieved something in 1969 that holds no competition on any pedestal of the sport. His friendly visit to the war-struck Nigeria compelled the opposing sides for a ceasefire to witness the magic!
And before I wind it up, I’ll ask this once, do you still not understand our love for soccer?
A Beautiful Sport
The phrase “a beautiful sport” is braided with soccer more than it is with any other sport. And that should tell you a bit about us soccer fans as well!
Flattering aside, soccer is not only a beautiful sport for the impact it has on people’s lives. After all, it’s a sport first and that’s the lens we should be looking at it from.
And even from an athletic and sporty point of view, soccer is a marvelous one!
The idea of using your entire body but your arms is an extremely unique concept. And the excessive dependence on your feet for precision, power, and speed makes it even artistic.
All the incredible passes, pin-point shots at the goal, and the deceitful dribbles even inspire awe. But it doesn’t just stop there.
The acrobatic overhead kicks at point blank range with micro seconds to react can lift anyone off of their seats, even the non-watchers of the sport.
And such masterful moves only show you the passion a person has for the sport and how many sleepless nights he’s kicked the ball around for this one moment of perfection!
I’m a strong believer of all sports sharing their glorious moments.
But it’s only soccer where defending becomes art, possession becomes poetry, and attacking becomes magic!
There aren’t one or two components that make us like soccer. That’s everything about it!
As you’ve seen from the reasons above, it’s a journey that starts as young toddlers and grows as we grow.
But to sum it up, it is the early familiarity, exuberant social anthropology, hopes for making the big stage, and supporting your club and country that ignites the likeness for soccer among fans.
Though many other sports are entertaining and competitive, none comes close to soccer in simplicity, universality, and opportunity!
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!