This is my 17th visit to the U.S.
It’s a lot, I know. Especially for a country who’s foreign policy I spend hours complaining about (even to the odd Armenian taxi driver), especially for a country with so much hypocrisy and insanity that it could both entertain and depress you for hours. But I separate all of this when it comes to Football, Soccer, Futbol, because I love football.
And for the most part, I absolutely adore the U.S. and my friends here.
Growing up, I knew how important the 1994 World Cup was to America (at the age of 5). It opened up an amazing franchise, as the U.S. had to promise FIFA that they were going to create a new professional league as part of the condition to host the World Cup.
It’s been 20 years since and the change has been incredible. My last 4 visits here, 08, 12′, 13′ and 14′ have all showed me the further growth of football here.
Social media has absolutely helped spread *soccer awareness* here and its made football more appealing both to new fans and to the old ones that don’t watch it as regularly.
Waking up every morning to countless Instagram/Twitter posts from all the pubs and bars in the U.S. with thousands upon thousands of fans. They’re all part of a movement and everybody seem to be bouncing off each other’s energy here.
Especially the newbies, the newbies are coming along and joining in and to many, they may appear lame, overenthusiastic, have terrible predictions and bullshit their way through a lot of conversations for absolutely no reason at all, other than to appear knowledgeable.
Then there are of course, the newbies no one talks about, those who quietly watch, quietly learn and quietly never bother anyone, finding ways to become more knowledgeable until they finally feel a part of that community.
Regardless of which one you are, people new to Soccer/Football should be embraced, they should be given the same education and understanding that we all got growing up (I really think at this point we’re the Church of Scientology but in a football sense).
I’m a great believer in the word “lame”, people that are new to things are generally lame or appear that way. I’ve been lame at so many things in my life, that I’m running out of things to be lame about.
Becoming a fan, or a supporter, or a fanatic, its all part of a long process. Some are at the beginning of theirs in this country, some are half way through.
Some are already there but still think they’re not because of how people make them feel, regardless of where you are in this process, you should embrace their lameness and their curiosity, because frankly, football, soccer, futbol, whatever you call it, it’s worth it.
Football coverage in this country is dumbed down, overloading in fact files and basic ideas that people in Europe would already be expected to know or not care about as much. But I’m not their target audience and I never will be, the new generation of soccer lovers are.
Considering the Latin American population in the U.S. and all the immigrants from Europe, it’s surprising why football isn’t the most popular sport in America.
The problem is highlighted by the U.S’s inability to create a good league. The North American Soccer league in the 70’s failed for all sorts of reasons. The MLS has shown that for the most part, it’s here to stay and we can see that with the rapid expansions and all the retired European stars coming here a year or two earlier than they usually would.
Football is now the third most played sport here and at school level, it’s one of the most popular.
Viewing figures suggests that it is finally becoming the big game here that it is in Europe, and to be honest with you, I don’t even care if you call it soccer or futbol any more. Because if you’re a person who wants to learn about the beautiful game and be part of this community (again, I have to stress that we’re all part of a weird cult surrounding a little ball), then I welcome you.
Written by Alexander Beck.
P.S. I’m absolutely convinced “I believe that we will win” was composed by George W Bush and Dick Cheney & it will be used against Iran when the time comes.