Two in three Americans do not plan to follow soccer's World Cup

Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:32pm EDT
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By Lindsay Dunsmuir

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When the U.S. men's soccer team lines up in Brazil to play their first game of the soccer World Cup in June, their home support may be tepid at best.

Two in three Americans do not plan to follow this year's tournament, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll. Only 7 percent said they anticipated following it closely.

It's been 20 years since the United States hosted the World Cup, an attempt at the time to bring soccer to a mass American audience. Two years later, a new professional league - Major League Soccer (MLS) - began. The league has grown from 10 to 19 teams.

The arrival of international stars such as David Beckham and Thierry Henry to play for MLS teams in recent years has boosted the sport's popularity. The owners of successful English Premier League team Manchester City, in partnership with the New York Yankees, are due to debut the New York City Football Club for the 2015 MLS season.

A Beckham-backed Miami team is also in the process of being established in order to join the league.

But soccer still has a long way to go before its marquee event can stake a claim alongside football's Super Bowl, the National Basketball Association finals, and baseball's World Series in American minds, the poll shows.

Eighty-six percent of Americans said they either know nothing or only a little bit about the World Cup, and more than two-thirds did not know Brazil is the 2014 host nation.

Jose Vargas, 48, does plan on watching the World Cup in Houston, where he has lived since coming to the United States in 2003. But he will be supporting his birth nation: Colombia.   Continued...

United States fans cheer on their team against Mexico during the first half of their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Columbus, Ohio September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan