We all know that the international version of football, which Americans call soccer, is steadily gaining popularity in America, not least women’s soccer, where the U.S. has been one of the top teams for many years — I still recall the wonderful experience from the World Cup finals in Los Angeles in 1999 with 100,000 spectators all around me in the Rose Bowl, watching the U.S. defeated China after penalty kicks.
But it seems that it is only then, every four years with the World Cup, that America wakes up and realizes that something big is happening, something that the rest of the world follows intently and passionately. Major League Soccer (MLS) has pretty good crowds at the games, but true passion is limited to a rather narrow audience, often to be found among the large immigrant communities from Latin America, Europe or Africa.
The current playoffs in basketball (NBA) and ice hockey (NHL) as well as the first months of the baseball season completely dominate the sports coverage.
Huge tournaments, like the European Champions League, is attracting very little interest. The final is played on Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London between Barcelona of Spain and Manchester United of England, and hundreds of millions of people, maybe one billion or even more, will watch the game, all over the world.
Therefore, today’s New York Times should be noted. Better late than never for an American audience to read about this great athleete! The paper’s sports section contains three pages on the “Boy Genius” – Lionel Messi — from Barcelona and Argentina. If you are a follower of soccer, or if you just want to catch up and get ready for Saturday’s game, you should read this article about this fantastic little soccer player – best in the world. Enjoy!