If you had asked me a year ago if I knew anything about European football, I couldn’t have told you much about the sport. After watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup, I learned just how fascinating the sport truly is and how vastly underrated it seems here in the United States.
According to an April 2022 survey by an intelligence firm, only 7% of American adults consider themselves avid football fans and 25% consider themselves occasional football fans. Morning consultation. That’s a small number for a wildly fun and crazy sport to be a fan of.
According to ESPN Newsroom, the 34 regular-season Major League Soccer games televised on the ABC and ESPN networks in 2022 drew an average viewership of 343,000 viewers per game. This is a surprisingly small number compared to the National Football League viewership in 2022, which Forbes reported was averaging 16.7 million per game for regular season games.
There’s so much to love about European football, known as football in the United States, and the way it’s played in different countries. With several different leagues across the continent, this creates exciting entertainment and brings ever-changing levels of competition to the sport. Although the United States has MLS, it doesn’t compare at all to how the game is played overseas.
The Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Bundesliga in Germany, Serie A in Italy and Ligue 1 in France represent the big five. Launderer’s report lists them as the best leagues in European football which represent the fiercest competition and some of the best athletes from around the world.
Many of us Americans only pay attention to the sports played here in the United States, but it’s time for everyone to watch European football more. It’s an incredibly interesting sport to follow. Even when the team you support isn’t doing well, there’s still so much going on in the leagues.
Unlike the American NFL, European football has several interwoven leagues across countries, providing many teams to watch and more games played in a single season. Along with this, instead of using a deadline when player swaps can take place, there are two transfer window periods in which players can be transferred between teams and often between leagues.
European football leagues also operate under a relegation system. This means that the last teams in each of the leagues across Europe are pushed to the lower leagues. This characteristic of the sport is extremely important, as it raises the level of competition every season, as it is a big problem when a team is relegated.
European football seasons are often supplemented with mid-season tournaments, season-long tournament leagues and international tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup which takes place every four years. Play-off tournaments that usually run throughout the season, such as the Union of European Football Associations Champions League and the Europa League, draw massive crowds and draw attention to the sport. The UEFA Champions League ultimately decides the best football team in Europe each season.
There are constant twists throughout the season which mainly runs from August to May. European football is a go-to sport for anyone looking for something they can actively engage in every season and every match. The sport is constantly evolving and will continue to grow as we move forward into the future.
With the FIFA World Cup coming to North America in 2026, it will give all of us here in the United States a great opportunity to see the best football players and will only deepen our knowledge of the sport. Since the tournament will be played in several major US cities across the country, this will only increase the viewership of the sport and people will finally start enjoying it more.
There’s more to the sports world than exists in the United States, and if we look outward and try to learn something new, it could create a lifetime of entertainment. European football, in my opinion, is one of the greatest sports on the planet and America should strive to fully embrace it.
For a sport as massively entertaining, yet under the radar, as European football is in the United States, Americans should try to leave the comfort of watching only American sports and find a new passion and sport that they can be fans. Learning something new is always valuable, no matter what stage in a person’s life. The world of European football is really great and many of us living in the United States should definitely pay more attention to it.