By Ben Nsemo
Soccer is the most watched sport in the world. From grassroots to the Premier League and all levels in-between, people around the globe have a love affair with the so-called beautiful game. Youngsters can be seen playing on makeshift pitches everywhere from Rio to Rome, London to Lagos, Paris to Prague and in almost every nation in the world. One glance at the festival of football, that is, the World Cup of Soccer every four years is a testament to the popularity that endures.
Even with this premier position in the world of sports, the global game still has work to do. As the MLS in North America continues to strive for more success in terms of money and supporters, the emerging league in Saudi Arabia is also making a splash and searching to join the elite leagues around the world. Add to these places including Japan with its J League and you will begin to understand how the existing success of soccer is something that continues to grow in new places.
When it comes to money and the media they both play a major role in the soccer world. At present, there is a buzz around top-class players being enticed to the Saudi league by financial packages that are almost unbelievable. Take a look at the summer transfers in soccer and you will see both the Saudi league and the MLS, both admittedly inferior when compared to European elites such as Serie A or the Premier League, are attracting bigger names than ever, with Messi and Henderson just two to mention.
Major League Soccer Attracting Major Players And Media Hype
Back in the 1970s the North American Soccer League attracted players including Pele, George Best, and Johann Cruyff, true global stars at the time. They did not, however, make the league flourish in the long term. Perhaps this was, at least in part, down to the fact that the media hype and global media exposure were nowhere near what the franchises and players are blessed with today. With events such as the Asian Games for Soccer now jostling for attention too, the markets that soccer is involved in are both growing and almost
At present, the MLS global audience is growing at a rate never previously experienced or even perhaps hoped for by league executives. As MLS franchise owners pump more and more money into player purchases, the media hype surrounding the league has reached a fever pitch. Even though the USA is a sporting haven for so many other games, soccer is now featured on mainstream sports channels more than ever, and television sports networks in Europe and South America, two of the heartlands of sports, are also investing in the league for their viewers.
Since the early days of David Beckham’s arrival in Los Angeles, the media has continued to showcase this league and in doing so, has helped attract a steady stream of world-class players, some of whom have many good years of their career left. When it comes to growing the global game even more, the USA can never be underestimated as a market, even with the other sports that are more entrenched in the culture and continue to dominate the overall sporting preferences. With media interest in both players and franchises growing exponentially, the soccer success story seems destined to become even greater.
Online Media Making Major Difference To Soccer Supporters
Far from the days when people huddled around a black-and-white screen to watch the big soccer match, we are now living in a time when soccer supporters can watch what they want, where they want, and whenever they want. From apps that stream live soccer network fixtures to club apps that show almost real-time highlights, globally available sports channels that show every single Premier League match around the world to subscription sites devoted to all things soccer, online media has transformed how people can and do consume the sport.
As the internet revolution has emerged and as online opportunities continue to grow exponentially, once again money and media are combining to take this already globally loved sport to even greater heights. It is fair to say that without global media exposure and the profusion of sports sites and apps that are devoted to soccer from around the world, the money being made by players, teams, and franchises would be diminished.
As we know, television rights, merchandise, and all associated media-driven financial benefits continue to ensure high salaries and soccer security in terms of popularity and status. Add this to the number of countries now starting increasingly popular leagues and you will soon see how money and the media are major players off the soccer field, and how they influence what goes on at every level.