By Kiara Torres
Soccer is the most popular and most played sport on a global scale. In part, this is because it is one of the most versatile since it can be played on grass, mud, and even concrete. On almost every continent, there is a significant soccer fandom and large participation in the sport. Despite its universal popularity, the sport differs in terms of its impact on different cultures.
In Latin America, soccer, or fútbol, is appreciated from the United States/Mexico border to the southern tip of Chile. Soccer allows Latinos to both share and take pride in where they grew up or where their families are from. In many of these respective households, whenever their home country plays, everyone is watching, cheering, and scolding the players together as a family. For Latin American countries with harsh political or historical differences, such as Brazil and Argentina, the sport usually allows these two countries to celebrate their differences through a friendly game rather than harsh criticisms. Within the Latino culture, soccer represents history, family, and pride.
In Europe, soccer, or football, is also popular. Europe’s Champions League is undoubtedly one of the most competitive soccer leagues in the world with renowned teams including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, and Chelsea. European clubs have put on display famous players like Lionel Messi, Neymar, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Soccer was introduced to Africa more than 100 years ago when European nations imperialised the continent. About 50 years ago, soccer clubs began to be sponsored by large companies or even governments. Africa has the Confederation of African Football which regulates leagues in individual countries and also organizes the African Cup of Nations. Like other nations, African fans are loyal to their country or favorite club.
Meanwhile, while soccer in Asia soccer is as popular as anywhere else in the world, the Asian professional leagues are not as competitive as the European or Latin American leagues. However, many countries are growing more competitive. For example, in China president Xi Jinping promised to create 50,000 soccer academies in order to improve the country’s world rankings by 2025, according to Jing Daily.
While soccer is not as popular as other sports such as American football or baseball in the United States, for most of the world it is their favorite pastime. Soccer brings the world together through World Cup tournaments, allowing nations that do not get along politically to release their aggressions in a positive way, and for fans to display their national pride. The world is a big place but soccer makes it that much more of a community.