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 sports 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.
In terms of revenue and overall level of competition, Europe is the most prominent soccer market in the world. In the 2015/2016 soccer season, professional soccer in Europe had an estimated market size of 24.6 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 two billion Euros in the 2015/2016 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 2017/2018 season amounted to around 15 billion Euros. Manchester United of the English Premier League (EPL) was the most valuable football brand worldwide in 2017 while the German Bundesliga recorded the highest average per game attendance in 2016/2017. The total value of kit sponsorship of the EPL in 2017/2018 stood at around 282 British Pounds.
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 held every four years by different host nations. The inaugural soccer World Cup tournament was first held in 1930 in Uruguay and the next soccer World Cup in 2018 will be held in Russia, when 32 national teams will compete for the championship.
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. The number of people who attended an MLS game rose from about 1.79 million in the spring of 2008 to 3.65 million in the spring of 2017.
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