Soccer is the most popular sport in many parts of the world, but in the US, more traditional American sports like baseball and football have been more popular. The 2022 FIFA World Cup saw a huge publicity boost for American soccer and Sports Innovation Lab decided to see what this now means for the sport.
The Fanarchy26 report was produced by Sports Innovation Lab in partnership with the Jung von Matt SPORTS creative agency. This analysis is especially relevant as the 2026 version of the soccer World Cup is to be held across the US, Canada, and Mexico.
One of the headline figures shows us that 27% of sports fans in the US are interested in soccer. This puts it well behind football, which is the most popular sport at 52%. Basketball and baseball are also ahead of soccer, with 43% and 37% respectively. In terms of its popularity across states, California is top followed by Texas.
Another interesting piece of data to come out of the research is that soccer fans tend to spend more on merchandise than those who follow other sports. They found that over 70% of American soccer fans attend a match or buy an entry ticket once a year, while a similar number of people spend on merchandise each year.
How Soccer Fits into Our Digital Entertainment Lifestyle
One of the most important reasons why soccer is now growing quickly in the US is that it fits in with the current appetite for digital entertainment that fits our lifestyles. This is reflected in the way that 57% of fans in the US watch at least a couple of games each week over a streaming service, which also helps to explain why international leagues like the EPL and La Liga aren’t far behind the domestic MLS and USL in terms of viewers.
The emergence of online betting software that provides sports betting and casino games is another factor that’s added an extra degree of interest for fans in numerous states. These platforms gather the latest sports data to provide up-to-date odds on games across the planet and the chance to place wagers while games are being played live. This leads to thousands of betting events being covered each week on a 24/7 basis.
A Look Ahead to the World Cup 2026
As co-hosts, the US national team has automatically qualified for the 2026 World Cup, together with Mexico and Canada. This event will be held across 11 different cities in the US, together with three in Mexico and two in Canada.
It’s not yet been confirmed where the final of this prestigious tournament will be held, although some sources suggest that the chosen venue is likely to be either the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, SoFi Stadium in California, or the AT&T Stadium in Texas.
This is going to be the first FIFA World Cup with an expanded format including 48 teams instead of 32. This way, American fans will be able to see a total of 104 games over a period of up to 40 days, with the final due to take place on July 19.
The 2022 World Cup helped soccer become more popular in the US and the fact that the country co-hosts the 2026 tournament should give this sport another huge boost in the next few years.