‘The Sport of the Future’: Wisconsin is Jumping on the Soccer Bandwagon

By Christina Lorey

February 21, 2023

DID YOU KNOW? Soccer fandom in the US is expected to increase by 24 million people by the year 2026—when America co-hosts the World Cup.

Held once every four years, the annual global soccer championship has five times the viewership of the Super Bowl. While soccer—better known as football in other countries—has long been the favorite sport worldwide (raking in more than $40 billion in profits a year), new numbers show Americans are quickly catching on. 

Based on a Gallup sports poll, the percentage of adults who consider themselves soccer fans today has increased by 52% compared to 10 years ago. This growth outpaces America’s other “major” sports, with ice hockey (+42%+), basketball (+27%), and baseball (+8%) all behind soccer, and American football (-7%) actually losing fans.

Why?

The 1994 FIFA World Cup, creation and growth of Major League Soccer, and the success of the US women’s national team were cited among the main reasons behind America’s soccer surge. 

Another factor is the sharp increase in the number of games broadcast on TV. In 2021, there were only six days where a soccer game wasn’t on TV in the US: more than 4,600 individual matches were shown. And more than half of those matches were broadcast in Spanish, highlighting the sport’s popularity among Hispanics—America’s fastest-growing demographic.

'The Sport of the Future': Wisconsin is Jumping on the Soccer Bandwagon

Growth Within Wisconsin

Since playing its inaugural season in 2019, Forward Madison FC has made soccer more accessible to Wisconsin fans. The professional team competes in the third division of the US soccer league system and plays its home matches at Madison’s Breese Stevens Field. In its first four seasons, the Flamingos (the team’s nickname) have gained an enthusiastic fan club known as “The Flock” and averaged the second-highest attendance in the league.

Click here to score, single-game, multi-game, or group tickets to an upcoming match!

And soon, Milwaukee will get in on the craze. In 2025, the Cream City will get its first professional outdoor soccer club since the Milwaukee Rampage left the city in 2002. Milwaukee’s new team will play in the league above Forward Madison FC: the USL Championship, which also has clubs in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and more.

The team will play at a brand-new 11-acre complex called the Iron District, which will have an 8,000-seat professional outdoor soccer field. Click here to learn more about Milwaukee’s new team.

'The Sport of the Future': Wisconsin is Jumping on the Soccer Bandwagon

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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