Why European football is worth the watch


Chrisjackson/Wikimedia Commons

The English Premier League had approximately 3.2 billion viewers throughout the 2018-19 season, according to Nielsen research.

Nicholas Pestritto, Staff Writer

If you asked me a year ago if I knew anything about European football, I would not have been able to tell you much about the sport. After watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup, I learned how fascinating the sport really is and how vastly under-appreciated it seems to be here in the United States. 

Only 7% of U.S. adults consider themselves to be avid soccer fans and 25% consider themselves to be casual soccer fans, according to an April 2022 poll from intelligence company Morning Consult. This is a small number of people for a wildly fun and crazy sport to be a fan of. 

According to the ESPN Press Room, the 34 Major League Soccer regular season matches televised on ABC and ESPN networks in 2022 delivered an average audience of 343,000 viewers per game. This is a shockingly small number compared to National Football League viewership in 2022, which Forbes reported was at an average of 16.7 million per game for regular season matches. 

There is so much to love about European football, known as soccer in the U.S., and how it is played across the different countries. With several different leagues throughout the continent, it makes for exciting entertainment and brings ever-changing levels of competition to the sport. While the U.S. does have the MLS, it does not at all compare to how the game is played overseas. 

The Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, the Bundesliga in Germany, Serie A in Italy and Ligue 1 in France represent the big five. Bleacher Report lists these as the top leagues of European football that represent the fiercest competition and some of the best athletes in the entire world. 

Many of us Americans only pay attention to the sports being played here in the U.S., but it is time for everyone to watch more European football. It is an insanely interesting sport to follow. Even when the team you support is not doing well, there is still so much constantly going on around the leagues. 

Unlike the U.S.’s NFL, European football has several leagues intertwined across countries, providing many teams to watch and more games played in a single season. Along with that, instead of using a deadline when player trades can happen, there are two transfer window periods when players can be transferred between teams and often between leagues. 

European football leagues also operate on a relegation system. This means that the bottom few teams in each of the leagues throughout Europe get pushed down to lower leagues. That feature of the sport is extremely important, as it drives up the level of competition each season because it is a big deal when a team gets relegated. 

The seasons of European football are often enhanced by mid-season tournaments, season-long tournament leagues and international tournaments like the FIFA World Cup that takes place every four years. Playoff tournaments that usually go on throughout the season, like the Union of European Football Associations Champions League and Europa League, bring massive crowds and attention to the sport. The UEFA Champions League ultimately decides the best football team in Europe every season. 

There are constant twists and turns throughout the season that mainly runs from August to May. European football is a must-follow sport for anyone looking for something they can actively engage with every season and every game. The sport is ever changing and will continue to grow as we progress into the future. 

With the FIFA World Cup coming to North America in 2026, it will give all of us here in the U.S. a great opportunity to see the best players of football and will only help further our knowledge of the sport. Since the tournament will be played in several major U.S. cities all across the country, it will only help increase the viewership of the sport and people will finally start to appreciate it more. 

There is more to the world of sports than what exists in the U.S.,and if we expand our views outwards 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 work towards fully embracing it. 

For such a massively entertaining, yet under the radar, sport as European football is in the U.S., Americans should try to leave the comfort of only watching U.S. sports and find a new passion and new sport they can be fans of. Learning something new is always valuable no matter what stage of life someone is at. The world of European football truly is great and many of us living in the U.S. should absolutely pay more attention to it.