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Why Is Soccer So Popular? (10 Reasons)


Whenever the World Cup comes around, it’s almost as if everyone suddenly becomes a soccer fan.

Even sports fans who never talked about soccer before might suddenly be tuning in to watch the matches.

Soccer is a game that involves two teams attempting to kick a ball into a goal to score points.

Outside of the United States, fans of the sport call it football instead of soccer.

From being a fast-paced game to having a shorter game period, here are a few reasons soccer is so popular.


Why Is Soccer So Popular? (10 Reasons)


1. Fast-Paced

Goalkeeper kicks the ball in the stadium


Unlike some other sports, soccer is actually quite fast-paced.

You watch players running up and down the field either driving the ball or chasing it.

Even though the field is quite large, the players can move the ball at a fast rate.

They can pass the ball across great distances and keep the game going.

Players are also aware that every minute counts in a soccer game.

As such, it’s rare for them to waste time.

At most, you might see a player pacing the ball near the goal.

Once it’s put in play, however, the race is on.

This fast-paced nature means there’s always something going on to watch.

You’re not usually just watching one person have the ball.

It’s bouncing all over the place.

This is different from other games like football.

In American football, the action on the field stops a lot.

Any time a drive ends, the game stops to put the players back in position.

It also takes time to put the players in the correct positions when the ball changes hands.

This can make the game a bit boring because you end up waiting around for the players to get in position more than you watch them actually play.

In soccer, that isn’t the case.

Because the action is constant, it makes the game far more interesting.

Soccer is popular because it’s a fast-paced game with tons going on all the time.


2. Things Can Change At Any Moment

Soccer player legs in action


One of the most entertaining aspects of soccer is that the game can change at any moment.

When a team scores a point, it only counts as one point.

This means that the other team only needs to score once to tie things up.

That isn’t the case in basketball or football.

In football, teams score six points after a touchdown.

They’re then able to score more points by completing a two-point conversion or a field goal.

In basketball, you have three-pointers, two-pointers, and situations that only earn a single point.

What ends up happening as a result is that it puts the team even further ahead.

If the other team falls behind by too many points, it can be impossible for them to catch up.

This makes the game a bit more boring because it becomes almost inevitable that the leading team is going to win.

In soccer, long leads can happen, too, but they’re rarer.

It’s a lot easier for a team to make up two points than it is for 34 points.

As such, even if a team is ahead by a point or two, there’s always a chance that the other team can overturn that and end up winning instead.

You never know what to expect from a soccer match.

That makes it a bit more exciting to watch.

Because it’s a bit more exciting, it’s quite popular.

Soccer is popular because fans never know what to expect from the game.


3. Dynamic Players

Two football players of different teams. They wear sportswear without a brand. Stadium and crowd made in 3D.


Soccer is all about the players.

In football and basketball, a lot of attention goes to the coaches.

In football, especially, you’ll see a lot of news about defensive line coaches and offensive line coaches.

That’s because those games are a bit more structured.

They’re able to run plays and speak with the coach to determine what plays to run.

In soccer, things are a bit different.

While there are certainly some plays that the coach might tell them to run, it’s really down to the players, themselves.

The players have to be dynamic to perform well in soccer.

They need to be ready to adapt at a given moment.

That’s because a lot can go wrong during the game.

A player can’t wait for instructions from the coach when something unplanned occurs.

They need to be ready to adapt.

This makes soccer popular because it means fans end up connecting with the players more than the coaches.

When a player succeeds, it feels like they succeed, too, because they’re rooting for that player.

Soccer is a player-focused game, which makes it a bit more interesting to watch.


4. National Identity

Football supporter fans cheering with confetti watching soccer match at stadium tribune


Although fans tend to connect to certain players, they also have favorite teams.

Oftentimes, their favorite teams represent their home country.

Like any other sport, you identify with the team that represents where you are from.

For example, fans might support a team because they represent the city or country that they’re from.

Your identity ends up becoming mixed with the soccer team.

When they win, it becomes a win for your city or country.

That’s what makes tournaments an enjoyable experience for soccer fans.

They become competitive with other fans.

On the one hand, they’re competitive because their teams are playing against each other.

They want their team to crush their opponent’s team.

They’re also competitive on the sheer basis of being the bigger fan.

They deck themselves out in jerseys and paint.

They come waving flags and making noise with noisemakers.

It’s essentially a competition to show that you love your team more than they love their team.

That can be a lot of fun for some people.

Even if you’re not a fan of soccer, you may root for your particular team during big tournaments like the World Cup.

Because you identify with the team representing your country, you want them to perform well.

You’re rooting for them because they’re representing you.

Soccer is popular because it allows people to identify with teams on a national level.


5. Rivalries

Soccer players heading the ball in competition. Football adult game


Speaking of rivalries, they don’t just happen among fans either.

Teams tend to have rivalries, too.

It might be borne out of a terrible loss at the hand of one of the teams.

It could come from a loss against a certain team for the World Cup.

It might even simply be because the two teams have a history.

For example, even though the United States and England are great allies today, there’s no shortage of Revolutionary War jokes during the World Cup when the two teams play against one another.

Rivalries make soccer popular because it gives people a reason to root for their team.

Even if someone is lukewarm about soccer, if they feel strongly about beating a particular country, then they’ll root for their team during that match.

Rivalries make people passionate.

Soccer is rife with rivalries.

Even players might have rivalries with one another.

A player might be looking to upset the record that another player set.

Others simply want to outperform their rivals.

It makes the game more interesting to watch because you don’t know which side is going to come out on top.

Soccer is popular because of the intense rivalries within the sport.


6. Drama

Soccer player in action on night stadium panorama background


Perhaps because of the rivalries, there’s no shortage of drama that occurs in soccer, too.

While it may not be as prevalent as hockey, some players do get into tiffs in soccer, too.

They might start making threats to one another on the field or off of it.

Most commonly, you see players arguing with the referee over a call.

Since players can be punished for arguing with a referee, it can completely change the game.

A referee can toss the player out of the game, for example.

That ends up creating quite a dramatic event.

Fans tend to go wild when a player gets tossed out.

They either hate it because it weakens the team, or they love it because it gives their particular team an edge over theirs.

The location of the matches can also start some drama.

If the location has particular rules that its visitors need to follow and the visitors don’t like those rules, then it can cause drama as well.

Soccer is a popular sport because it has its share of drama.


7. Easy To Understand

Training and football match between youth soccer teams


One of the great aspects of soccer is that it’s easy to understand.

You can usually pick up the rules even by watching it for the first time.

Each player has a set of tasks that they perform.

The goalie protects the goal.

The defenders protect the goalie and goal.

The mid-fielders help transition the ball from the defenders to the forwards.

The forwards, or strikers, try to score on the opposing team’s goal.

To score points, all you need to do is kick the ball into the goal.

The most important rule is that you can’t touch the ball with your hands.

The only exception is the goalie and throw-ins.

With those rules in mind, you’re basically ready to watch a match.

There are more rules than that, particularly where offside occurs, but the gist of soccer is simple to understand.

Because of its simplicity, it’s easy to follow and understand what’s going on.

That makes soccer quite approachable.

Someone who is new to watching sports will likely find soccer easier to watch than football since football has more complex rules.

Soccer is popular because it’s easy to understand and follow.


8. Relatively Accessible To Everyone

Traditional soccer ball on soccer field


Another great aspect of soccer is that it’s relatively accessible to everyone to play.

Whether you’re handicapped, out of shape, or in shape, you can play soccer.

All you need is a soccer ball and something to represent goals.

You don’t even need a soccer ball.

Any ball that you can kick will do.

It’s why soccer is a popular sport among poorer nations.

Kids and adults can play it with practically nothing.

Handicapped athletes can also play soccer with the help of certain devices.

Its accessibility makes it a popular sport.

Its rules-light system also makes it accessible.

It’s an easy sport to teach to children.

You just give them some instructions, and then they can play the game.

Since it’s accessible, it means more people are likely to pick it up and play the sport.

Sports that are more challenging to get into, like basketball and football, have a higher bar of entry.

They’re slightly less popular because it isn’t as easy to pick up and play.

The fact that soccer is a bit safer, too, also makes it appealing to many people.

While there’s some risk of collision and having a ball smack you in the face, those are your only real concerns.

Soccer is popular because it’s relatively accessible to everyone.


9. Player Celebrities

Cristiano Ronaldo player during the UEFA Nations League Finals match between national team Portugal and Netherlands at Estadio do Dragao, Portugal


Because the focus of soccer is on the players, it means there are often celebrities that end up coming out of soccer.

One of the most popular soccer celebrities is Cristiano Ronaldo.

Part of his fame comes from his skills on the field.

However, he’s also been successful off the field.

Whether it’s starting his own businesses or being part of advertisements, he’s known how to grow his brand.

Because he has that celebrity status, he’s drawn a lot of fans.

Even people who aren’t fans of his particular team are fans of Ronaldo.

That’s because they appreciate his skills on the field.

The same goes for other soccer celebrities.

Like movie celebrities, soccer celebrities help make the sport more popular.


10. Short Game Duration

Legs of two soccer players vie on a match


A final reason soccer is popular is that it doesn’t last that long.

Certain games may last longer because of an increased number of commercial breaks.

Outside of those, however, the game only lasts for 90 minutes.

It is split into two 45-minute halves of non-stop action.

Certain referee calls might extend the play a bit longer.

However, after those 90 minutes, as long as there isn’t overtime, the game comes to a stop.

This shorter game duration makes soccer more enjoyable to watch since the fans don’t have to devote their entire day to it.

They’re able to do other things, too.

It’s essentially a contained bit of entertainment that’s jam-packed with action.

Soccer is popular because it doesn’t last as long as other sports.



Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world.

It can link its popularity to its low bar of entry and its dynamic and famous players.

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