What: Though most people in the U.S. still call association football “soccer,” the sport has steadily gained popularity over the past couple years so that it is now the country’s second most popular sport after NFL football. In 2014, the 20th World Cup will be held in Brazil. In anticipation of next year’s event, remember the anniversary of the FIFA World Cup, first held on July 13, 1930.
Background: Orchestrated by Jules Rimet, former president of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA, the first World Cup was an invite-only tournament of 13 teams. The event has since expanded to a 32-team format and is held in a different country every four years.
Story Pitch: The U.S. was actually one of the few countries to compete in the first World Cup. Despite the rather slow growth of its popularity in the U.S., we have deep ties to the event and sport of soccer. U.S.-based manufactures of balls, cleats and other gear needed for soccer will want to focus on this anniversary. National soccer teams may also also take this time to promote their games up until the 2014 World Cup, building on the growing popularity of soccer in the U.S. Similarly, now is a good time for companies to either reaffirm or begin sponsorship of teams entering the competition. Given that 2013 is also the centennial of the United States Soccer Federation, this is a great time for youth soccer leagues, adult leagues and community groups to pitch around soccer. Be sure to focus on the good that soccer can do on a local level to boost local economies, improve kid’s health and self-esteem, and draw communities together.
Story Hook: Recent protests against corruption and social inequality in Brazil have partially focused on the upcoming World Cup as a source of financial excess. How does the world cup impact its host nations, and what are the more positive effects the sport can have on a local scale? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:
- What has helped soccer’s popularity in the U.S., and what can be done to further it?
- What injuries and concerns should parents of youth soccer players be aware of?
- What changes to rules and equipment have happened since the first world cup?
- What benefits does soccer hold for members of adult leagues?
Tips: Provide contact information for local soccer leagues and organizers, as well as people whose lives have been greatly affected or improved by the sport.
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
United States Adult Soccer Association
United States Soccer Federation
US Youth Soccer