OK, all you soccer fans calm down. I know you're going to tell me that you, or a friend, really love soccer. But here's the reality: A 2013 poll
found that only 4% of Americans rank soccer as their favorite sport to watch. (Football, the American type I mean, comes in at No. 1 with 39% of those polled.)
True, we have seen an uptick in Americans following the European Premier League, but a poll taken in the days before the 2014 World Cup found that 86% of Americans said they either know nothing or very little about the World Cup
. The same poll found more than two-thirds did not know Brazil was the 2014 host nation for the World Cup, but that's likely less about soccer and more about us simply not caring about things happening in other countries. (Unless, of course, we are about to bomb another country, then we all become "experts" on it.)
And even though we hear politicians talk about wanting to win the coveted "soccer mom" vote, it appears there are more "soccer moms" than actual "soccer kids." Just 13.7 million Americans who are 7 or older played soccer twice or more in 2012
(That's up by only 3% from 2004.)
So despite some outliers, we Americans aren't that into soccer.
But we are really, really into scandals. And this soccer scandal has the feel of an international version of "American Hustle." There are alleged bribes, money laundering, kickbacks, swanky hotels and people in power falling from grace. Just writing about this makes me even more excited about this scandal.
However, if the soccer world wants even more Americans to pay attention, you need more than this bribery scandal.
Corruption scandals are interesting, but it's not like players were paid to take a dive (or more dives than they already do in soccer matches) or miss a penalty shot on purpose. Now that would really peak our interest, because we have a history of those types of scandals from the Chicago "Black Sox" who took bribes to throw the 1919 World Series to more recent college basketball points shaving scams.
What you need is one of the famous soccer players familiar to Americans -- like say, David Beckham, because he's the only one we all know -- to be involved in a soccer related scandal. Then you can get coverage on E!, TMZ, Bravo, Page 6 and the like. We really love celebrity scandals. And if somehow Beckham is photographed shirtless while committing his scandalous acts, that would attract even more attention, because skin sells big time.
In fact, now that I think of it, if soccer aficionados truly want to entice everyone in America to talk soccer, you need a sex scandal. Oh man do we love those! Give us something with a FIFA exec cheating with an intern or hooking up with someone in an airport bathroom stall while kicking a soccer ball and that will spark water cooler fodder for weeks.
And I'm just throwing this out there, but I have two words that could potentially spell superstardom for soccer: Sex tape. Maybe a massive orgy with soccer players, FIFA executives, interns, bellhops at the upscale hotels and of course, get David Beckham in it. The Internet breaks and we will all be talking the wild and crazy world of soccer.
If that's too much, then at least give us a reality show with the attractive and/or outrageous wives of soccer stars. "Basketball wives" is a hit so why not "soccer spouses"?
Now the big question is -- will any of this actually move Americans to watch more soccer? It's hard to say. But to be honest, considering how few people in United States watch or play soccer, it can't hurt.