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Soccer - Statistics & Facts

Soccer—more commonly referred to as football—is a team sport involving two competing teams with eleven field players each and is considered the most popular sport in the world. The modern-day variant of the sport has its origin in England, where the rules were first drawn up around the mid-19th century. Today, soccer is watched and played by billions of people all across the world.

European soccer leagues

In terms of revenue and overall level of competition, Europe is the most prominent soccer market in the world. In the 2019/20 soccer season, professional soccer in Europe had an estimated market size of 25.2 billion U.S. dollars. The main administrative body for soccer in Europe is the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), which organizes club and national competitions such as the UEFA Champions League for clubs and the European Championship for national teams. The UEFA Champions League alone generated total revenue of over 2.8 billion Euros in the 2020/21 season.

Five of the world’s most prestigious national soccer leagues (the “Big Five”) are located in Europe—the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, and Ligue 1 in France. The combined revenue of the “Big Five” leagues in the 2019/20 season amounted to more than 15 billion Euros. Real Madrid of the Spanish La Liga was the most valuable football brand worldwide in 2021, while the English Premier League recorded the highest average per game attendance in 2021/22. The total value of kit sponsorship of the English Premier League (EPL) in 2019/20 stood at around 349.1 million British Pounds. More information about soccer in Europe and the fan experience can be found in the 2021 European Football Benchmark report.

FIFA and the World Cup

The main governing body for the sport worldwide is the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). The FIFA World Cup is the main international soccer competition organized by FIFA and is held every four years by different host nations. The inaugural soccer World Cup tournament was held in 1930 in Uruguay and the next soccer World Cup in 2022 will be held in Qatar, when 32 national teams will compete for the championship. FIFA release a regularly-updated list of rankings for both international men's and international women's teams. The United States women's team often sit top of the women's rankings thanks to the great success they have enjoyed in recent years. They have won a total of four FIFA Women's World Cups, the last time in France in 2019, as well as four Olympic women's gold medals

Soccer in the United States

Soccer in the United States is governed by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and the highest-level professional soccer league in the U.S. is Major League Soccer (MLS). Soccer is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world, nor is it as profitable as in most European nations, but its popularity has continued to grow in recent years. Indeed, average attendances of MLS teams now reach into the tens of thousands, with Atlanta United FC boarding an average per game attendance of over approximately 44 thousand in the 2021 MLS season.


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