(CNSNews.com) - With the FIFA World Cup set to begin in South Africa on Friday, 63 percent of American men say that soccer is not likely to ever be as popular as football, baseball, basketball or hockey in the United States, according to a poll released today by Zogby International.
A 54-percent majority of the overall American population (males and females combined) has reached the same conclusion. Only 24 percent of Americans, meanwhile, say they will watch any part of the World Cup.
The World Cup, which is held every four years, is a tournament of 32 national soccer teams that compete for the right to claim they are world champions. It is sponsored by the Federation Internationale de Football Assocation (FIFA). The 2006 World Cup was held in Germany and the Italian team won it. According to FIFA, 376 television stations around the world covered the 2006 competition, up from 232 in 2002.
“The 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany had a total cumulative television audience of 26.29 billion (24.2 billion in-home and 2.1 billion out-of-home viewers),” said a statement from FIFA. Since, there are currently only 6.83 billion people in the world, according the U.S. Census Bureau, that means the cumulative audience for the full 2006 World Cup equaled almost 4 times the global population.
From June 4-7, Zogby International asked 2,109 American adults: “How likely do you think it is that soccer could one day rise in popularity to the same level as the four major U.S. sports (Baseball, Basketball, Football and Hockey)”? Overall, 38 percent said it was “likely," 54 percent said it was “not likely,” and 8 percent said they were “not sure.’ Among men, only 34 percent said it was “likely,” while 63 percent said it was “not likely,” and 3 percent said they were “not sure.”
Zogby International also asked: “Are you planning to watch any of the World Cup matches?” Sixty-two percent of American men said “no,” while 31 percent said “yes,’ and 7 percent said they were “not sure.”
Americans under 30, whom Zogby International calls “the First Global generation,” are more likely than their elders to be optimistic about the future popularity of soccer in the United States and to say they will watch some of the World Cup. Overall, 69 percent of Americans said “no” they would not watch any of the World Cup, but only 51 percent of those under 30 said “no” they would not watch any of the competition. Among the under-30 generation, 47 percent said they thought it was “likely” soccer would one day become as popular as baseball, basketball, football and hockey. That slightly edged out the 46 percent in that age bracket who said they thought it was “not likely” soccer would ever become that popular in the United States.