Americans have turned out in full force to the World Cup in Brazil, snapping up nearly 200,000 tickets. More tickets were sold in the U.S. to World Cup games than to any other country outside of Brazil, according to FIFA. Four years ago for the tournament in South Africa, the U.S. was the fourth largest group in terms of World Cup viewership, with 24 million Americans tuning into the finals.
Still, being an American soccer fan isn’t easy. On the field, the U.S. men’s national soccer team isn’t expected to go far in this year’s World Cup. To advance, they’ll have to claw their way out of what many are calling the “Group of Death” with tough games against Ghana, Germany and Portugal.
The battle also extends off the field. Soccer lovers say that, back in the U.S. they tire of defending their sport to fans of football, baseball, basketball who say there just isn’t enough scoring. Just finding a televised game can be a challenge.
“Unless you’re on TV in the U.S. you’re not real,” said Cesar Fiscal, 33, a software engineer from Los Angeles.
In the presence of Europeans, Fiscal said he feels alienated as well. “When I say ‘soccer’ they know I’m American, and they look at me like they’re not happy. I think it feels for them like we’re encroaching on their territory or something.”
Still, Americans have always loved a good underdog story. U.S. soccer fans say that’s part of what makes the game so enticing.