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Soccer-Hating Americans

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Religious tolerance has its limits, even in America.

"We're American men, we like all sports except for soccer
'Cause soccer's just a bunch of foreigners runnin' around"
Josh and Nathaniel, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: "Sports Analogies"

The Beautiful Game of Association Football is the world's sport. Nearly every country on Earth loves it. Focus on "nearly".

For a long time, one major exception to this was the United States of America, which only loved the traditional American team sports of baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and their own game, which they call football (a.k.a. gridiron). However, since the 1970s, numerous attempts have been made to make the sport more popular in the States, and it has slowly made some major inroads: America has a fairly successful domestic league; the FIFA video game series is incredibly popular (although Madden still outsells it in the US); their women's national soccer team has won four FIFA Women's World Cups; the men's team has vastly improved from joke team to regularly competing with soccer-crazy Mexico for the position of top dog in the North America confederation (CONCACAF) with several of its members playing for Europe's top clubs; and many children (more girls than boys) grow up playing it. It probably helps that many chunks of the US have big Hispanic populations, who love the sport. However, in spite of all of that, soccer still lags well behind other sports in America in terms of popularity, and it has nowhere near the religious fervor it has in other countries.

The attempts to grow the sport in America have also met widespread resistance in some circles. Many Americans just plain don't like the sport — considering it boring. And this is reflected in the media, where American characters will often go out of their way to bash the sport for all of the above (as well as the players' propensity for faking injuries). Another problem with soccer in American eyes are the low scores. Baseball and hockey are "low scoring" if they end 3-1. In American Football, a game that does not go into double digits is considered low-scoring, and in basketball, triple-digit games are a common occurrence. In soccer, the tendency over the last decades has been towards lower scores. The last thing that irks Americans about soccer (and is frequently mentioned in anti-soccer rants) is its propensity for ties. While US sports fans tolerate the occasional tie in hockeynote  and footballnote , they greatly prefer games where there's a clear winner, and baseballnote  and basketballnote  will go into overtime until there is a clear winner, however long that takes.

Another possibility is that the soccer fandom is just too splintered within the United States. The first group are people who play the sport in childhood, but are discouraged from continuing with it because there are more lucrative sports scholarships in other sports. Athletes who have played on the women's US soccer team have mentioned this fact. The second group are immigrants who brought their love for soccer with them. They stay loyal to the soccer teams in their homelands, they'll even play the game at local parks during the weekends, but they will not attend American games. The next group after that are Europhiles who want to appear more worldly to their peers and to people outside the United States. They'll pick a European team and follow it religiously while looking dimly upon American teams due to Cultural Cringe. They'll know all the statistics for their chosen team and will read the Daily Mail just to keep abreast of rankings and game results. However, they won't actually sit down and watch a game unless it's the World Cup or they are watching it with their European friends. Next, there's the group consisting of fans who only follow and watch games in the "Big Five" European leagues because they want to see the best players in the world compete and hold the view that MLS primarily consists of has-beens from those leagues staving off retirement or less skilled players who wouldn't cut it abroad. The final group is domestic soccer fans. They will follow their local professional team and will attend USSF games when given the chance. These splintered groups of American soccer fans rarely interact with each other except during the World Cup.

Then, there's also the issue of soccer being seen as effeminate by many Americans in its potential fandom. Compared to sports like hockey, baseball or football, where the athletes often hit the balls or pucks (and occasionally each other) with large blunt instruments and/or regularly ram into each other, that sort of contact violence is comparatively lacking in soccer. There's also the stereotype of soccer players "diving" to exaggerate their injuries, which makes them look bad when the Only a Flesh Wound mentality found in Football or Hockey is more admired.note  The fact that America's women's teams are so much more successful in international competition than their male counterparts and the sport's previously-mentioned popularity among teenage girls don't help either. Hence soccer in the United States falls victim to the Girl-Show Ghetto. At best, soccer is seen as acceptable for young boys, but not for older male teens or men.

Finally, there is the matter of an underlying Self-Fulfilling Prophecy that America has often floundered as a presence in world-class soccer. While Americans will happily support their underdog sports team and doesn't mind being bumped off the platform in an Olympic event, America likes to at least be a serious competitor in a sport. It should be little surprise, then, that a sport in which they are traditionally the Memetic Loser on the international stage has struggled to find traction.

Funnily enough, Association Football has been the subject of the US's Cyclic National Fascination on three occasions — in The '70s, when several star players (most notably Pelé) signed with the New York Cosmos; in the mid and late '90s, when the US hosted the men's and women's World Cups, winning the women's version; and in The New '10s and The New '20s as a wave of new teams and talent started to foster the idea that America could, just maybe, be good at soccer if it tried.

A specific example of Americans Hate Tingle.

Contrast Rugby Is Slaughter, where it's American football that's seen as the inferior option.


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  • Back in 2013 and 2014, NBC promoted their Premier League coverage with Coach Lasso, a fictional American football coach played by Jason Sudeikis picked to manage Tottenham Hotspur in England. The character would later be adapted into an Apple TV+ series of the same name (see Live-Action TV for details).
    Lasso: [screaming at ref] Will you explain to me how that was offside?! ...No, I'm asking you seriously, explain offside to me.

    Comic Books 
  • Exploited in an Archie Comics story. After sabotaging Archie's football tryouts and not wanting him to get sympathy from the girls for it, Reggie convinces Archie to switch to soccer, knowing that nobody in their school pays attention to that. For a time, Reggie gets all the sports glory to himself, but his plan backfires. After Archie becomes the star of the soccer team, the football team borrows him as a placekicker (soccer players really do sometimes become football kickers in Real Life), and he and not Reggie is hailed as the hero of the game.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Total Drama fanfic Total Lady Drama Island Chris asks who amongst them likes Soccer. Zoey responds by saying that she likes football. When Chris corrects her and says he's talking about soccer Zoey corrects him and says no, he's talking about football. 'Real' football.
    Chris:(beat) OK know I that we've lost all of our American viewers. The rest of you?
    • When she keeps correcting them saying 'soccer' with football, Chris tells her to not be "That Guy" and Chef punts the ball into her stomach with a confessional making it clear he did it on purpose.
    • Finally, Chris decides to cut the challenge short with sudden penalties, because he really doesn't want to have to watch any more soccer than he has to.

  • A common joke among fans of the Beautiful Game is to point to American football as a Non-Indicative Name, and that it should really be "handegg". After all, which of the two sports uses an object shaped like a ball and primarily requires use of your foot? note 

    Film — Animation 
  • In Flushed Away, an American tourist rat (in a cowboy hat) is watching the World Cup final game along with the other rats in the underground city. He asks why there's no helmets, no quarterback, and why no one is picking up the ball. "I tell ya, these Brits don't know the first thing about football."
  • In The Simpsons Movie, when Homer is on his spirit journey, one of the epiphanies he suggests is "America will never embrace soccer."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Averted in Bend It Like Beckham, where Jess and Jules have hopes of playing football professionally in the US, and the movie ends with them being scouted by a university in Santa Clara for their soccer team.
  • The Big Green: When a teacher from England tries to get the kids to play soccer, they are initially confused and disinterested (one of them even points out that footballs are supposed to be lemon-shaped, when she shows a soccer ball to them and refers to it as a football). Most of the film is spent showing the children's growth in skill and appreciation for the game. On the other hand, the team they're facing off against all take soccer very seriously, partly thanks to their coach acting like a Drill Sergeant Nasty.
  • In Coming to America, the Akeem's Love Interest's Jerkass boyfriend disses soccer, claiming he has no respect for any game, where players don't use their hands.
  • Final Score has an American soldier fighting mercenaries in a UK football (soccer) stadium, so naturally a number of jokes revolve around this.

  • Parodied by way of Fictional Sport versions in Quidditch Through the Ages, which explains that in the United States, the wizarding sport Quidditch has been supplanted by an American variant called Quodpot. (One major difference is that in Quodpot, the ball explodes — because Americans love Stuff Blowing Up.) Not true universally, though, as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire mentions American spectators at the Quidditch World Cup.
  • A subtle jab at soccer is made in Jon Stewart's Earth (The Book), where the author attempts to explain what sports are to the hypothetical alien readers. He tries to describe the joy, with which spectators watch players score... or, in case of soccer, not score. The irony being that Jon is a soccer fan and even played for the varsity soccer team in college.
  • Columnist Mike Royko once relayed a conversation he had with his (fictional) friend Slats Grobnik on why most Americans don't take soccer seriously. Slats thought the biggest problem was that hitting the ball with your head is legal in soccer, but looks undignified to Americans.
    "In our popular sports, what do we do if a ball bounces off somebody's head — an outfielder or a pass receiver or a point guard? We laugh at them because it looks goofy. Except in bowling, where we'd have to bury him."

    Live-Action TV 
  • 13 Reasons Why: One episode from season 2 has this dialogue:
    Caleb: Wanna take your mind off it all and watch Madrid destroy Barcelona Monday night?
    Tony: What makes you think I like soccer?
    Caleb: You're Mexican and you're gay. How could you not like soccer?
  • In The Big Bang Theory episode "The Cornhusker Vortex", where Leonard is trying to learn about American football so he can spend time with Penny, Sheldon is revealed to know all about the sport, and his explanation comes complete with a dig at soccer:
    I grew up in Texas. Football is ubiquitous in Texas. Pro football, college football, high school football, peewee football - in fact, every form of football except the original, European football, which most Texans believe to be a Commie plot.
  • On black•ish, Dre wants his son Jack to play football to learn lessons about life. When Bow suggests Jack could learn the same things from soccer, Dre denies it because "soccer... is stupid."
  • Bob Hearts Abishola: Bob asks Goodwin and Kofo to explain soccer to him, but their explanations of the intricacies of the Beautiful Game go over Bob's head. Later, Bob is making chili and the others complain about how long its taking; Bob explains that it takes patience... and that's when he realizes that soccer is just like that. For their part, Goodwin and Kofo try to watch American Football and find it too violent and senseless, until they realize one of the players is Nigerian and suddenly become rabid fans.
  • In Cobra Kai, Johnny visits his friend Tommy in the hospital, and upon seeing a soccer game on his television, says "You're watching soccer? It's worse than I thought."
  • The Colbert Report: In advance of the 2014 World Cup, Colbert announced that he was feeling "the soccer equivalent of excitement."
    Stephen: (after America lost in the World Cup finals) First up, big news from World Cup soccer: we don't have to care about it anymore!
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: In the song "Sports Analogies," Josh and Nathaniel are singing about every analogy relating to sports, but at the end we get these lines:
    We're American men, we like all sports except for soccer.
    'Cause soccer's just a bunch of foreigners running around.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: Debra Barone's father has pretensions of being a well-travelled polyglot. During one Thanksgiving visit, he switches the TV to a futbol game between two South American sides and waxes lyrical about Association Football. This disgusts the all-American Frank Barone, irritates Robert, and, strangely, bemuses the professional sportswriter Ray Barone. Who, given his profession as newspaper sports journalist, should at least be able to recognize a game of football as most of the world knows it.
  • When The Grand Tour visited America, the British hosts got into a fight with the local audience over which sport deserved to be called "football". A series of jump cuts implies the argument turned violent and the crowd beat the presenters up. (The same thing had happened the last time the show visited America, only that time it was over the hosts' claim that the RAF was the best air force in the world.)
  • The "Jay Street" episode of How I Met Your Father sees the British Charlie try to get his New Yorker friend group to watch a soccer game, but nobody is interested. Prior to the game Valentina and Sophie deride it as boring, while during the game itself they are all more excited about how Sophie and Jesse kissed, but Jesse's ex-girlfriend is back in town.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
    • When John Oliver explained the various FIFA corruption scandals, he acknowledged to his American audience that they might not understand how serious the situation was because "in this country soccer is something you pick up your 12-year-old daughter from," as opposed to the rest of the world where it's a religion.
    • In 2015, when several FIFA members got arrested thanks to an FBI investigation, John noted how interesting it was that a country which cared so little about soccer was so instrumental in saving it from corruption.
  • Mad Men: When Lane announces that England has just won the '66 World Cup, Roger replies, "...cup of what?"
  • On Married... with Children, Peg becomes a Fag Hag to a gay man she goes out dancing with every night. When the gay man's husband tries to warn Al about it, Al himself briefly falls for the husband when the latter says that he enjoys watching sports...except for soccer, which he doesn't really consider to be a "man's game".
  • This clip from the early '90s British Sketch Comedy series The Mary Whitehouse Experience made fun of how the US had been awarded the upcoming 1994 World Cup despite their version of football being completely different ("a game of rugby between two teams of motorcycle messengers"), before offering their own take on how the Americans would probably go about hosting and covering the event (short version: disgracefully).
  • Modern Family:
    • In "Leap Day", Gloria is rooting for Colombia at a sports bar and gets in a fight with a Dutch fan, prompting Jay to come in and make peace.
      Jay: Why don't you sit down, I send you over a beer, and my wife and I watch from over there. That way, everybody enjoys the game. Except me, because I prefer a game where something happens.
      • (He later complained that the game ended tied at one goal each, one of which was an own goal.)
    • One of the sublots of "The Day Alex Left for College" is about most of the family making up an excuse in order to skip Lily's soccer game.
      Jay: World's worst sport, world's worst players of it. Twenty-two girls in a cluster zig-zagging across a field like a busted Roomba. Except the only thing it sucks up is two hours of my life.
  • From The Office (US): Upon finding out that their new boss Charles is a huge soccer fan, both Jim and Andy both lie that they're huge fans as well, despite knowing nothing about it. (Andy at least bothers to do the research, but Jim is out to sea.)
  • Orange Is the New Black: In "Power Suit", some Dominican inmates take over the television to watch a game of soccer, much to the annoyance of two white inmates:
    The score's been zero-zero for, like, 40 minutes! This shit is boring!
    It's only the most popular sport in the world, but whatever.
    It's not a sport. It's running.
  • Sports Night:
    • A subversion, where Dan, as a sports reporter, has to talk about Major League Soccer, but has absolutely no knowledge of the league. When he challenges Natalie to name one team, Natalie and some extras list half a dozen on the Eastern Coast alone, revealing Dan as the only one in the office who doesn't follow MLS.
    • Dan would later mock MLS on air ("...and New England beat Kansas City 2-1 in an offensive slugfest. A modest proposal— make the nets bigger") much to the consternation of his boss Isaac, as their channel has a contract to air their games.
  • On Succession, Roman Roy listens in American confusion as a European business contact explains his plans for a soccer team:
    Eduard: Agent in Spain, big baller. I buy the club, he loans me nine shit-hot players. We climb the ladder, take the second Champions League space, UEFA goes full European super-league, flip it, walk away.
    Roman: I have no idea what you're talking about, but it sounds fucking slick, dude.
  • Though toned down from the commercials the show is based on (see Advertising above), American football coach Ted Lasso does come to his new Premier League job comically ignorant about soccer; he fails an on-the-spot challenge to explain the offside rule, and when asked if he even knows the names of any players he only comes up with "Ronaldo and that guy who can bend it like himself".
  • World's Dumbest... Whenever the show features a clip in which soccer is included — even briefly — much of the cast is quick to add their disdain for the sport in their commentary.
    Nick DiPaolo: Soccer's not boring enough when it's played by humans, let's slow it down even more underwater with fish!

  • Italian comedic rock band Elio e le Storie Tese "homaged" in their own way the 1994 USA World Cup with their song "Nessuno allo stadio" (Nobody at the Stadium), about USA's complete lack of interest about the sport, while Europe has long since embraced it. The song also had lyrics like this one: "Look at Lorena Bobbitt, think about her husband: how much interest do you think he holds in the World Cup? None!"note 

  • Inverted in "Gad Elmaleh part en live" by French-Morrocan comedian Gad Elmaleh, who is instead a baseball-hating European.
    I try to understand, but I don't, it's so boring! My buddy and I were watching the game, at one point he told me "let's get some hot-dogs and pizza". We were gone for 25 minutes. When we returned, the same guy was still holding the bat in the same position. Do you know what can happen during a soccer game in 25 minutes? Maybe they sold two players!
  • Daniel Tosh has mocked soccer in his stand-up.
    Sports need steroids. It does. Are you kidding me? Oh, baseball, certainly. Baseball's a strike away from being soccer. Yeah. And if you like Soccer, well, welcome to America. See, our country already has entertainment, so watching people chase a ball for four hours to end 0-0 is not enjoyable unless, of course, the bleachers collapse and half of Europe dies.
    • He also had a pretty acid comeback to the fact that the U.S. Men's Soccer team routinely gets their butts kicked:
      Well, no shit. All our good athletes are busy playing real sports.

    Video Games 
  • The Grand Theft Auto games (made by Scots who at times make their American cities look like Edinburgh, so it's certainly done in a mocking way!) have at least two:
    • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, we hear the host of "The Tight End Zone" calling out to fans of various sports before lashing out at soccer fans.
    "Your game is terrible and we don't win at it."
    • Grand Theft Auto V has a couple radio adverts for the Los Santos soccer team practically begging American audiences to watch their games, and providing reasons why they should, including how American crowd chants are boring compared to elaborate and blatantly insulting "European-style" chants, and how the "sophisticated" Europeans can tear up entire cities "in support of their team" while American fans are "too tame" in comparison.
  • If The Player ties with Brock Samson in Poker Night 2, the latter sardonically references the trope with, "A tie? What is this, soccer?"
  • Averted in, of all places, The Sims games, where the athletic career are usually represented with soccer, while The Sims itself is America in all but name and language.
  • This trope is likely the reason why the soccer sub-series of Super Mario Bros. is called Mario Strikers instead of Mario Soccer. European releases add the word football to the title since association football is held in much higher regard outside the U.S.

    Web Original 
  • Downplayed in 1st Generation vs. 2nd Generation Mexicans. The 1st generation Mexican-American guy wants to play football but he brings a soccer ball, which confuses the 2nd generation Mexican-American guy.
  • This set of fake texts from the American Museum of Natural History imagines the museum's famous blue whale as a Soccer Hating American, in contrast to a soccer-loving dinosaur from Argentina. (Well, the model was built for and is displayed in an American museum...)
  • Many of Cracked writers have taken shots at soccer (describing it as "boring" or "that bullshit thing they call football"), usually leading the comment section to get angry at this Fan Myopia.
  • Google featured a series of comical logos during the 2014 World Cup. On a day when the US team was playing, the logo showed the big "G" showing up to a soccer game carrying an American football and wearing a helmet.
  • Most of the jokes in the Honest Game Trailer for the FIFA Soccer are about how the narrator finds soccer incomprehensible and boring. He ends it by saying that he probably doesn't understand because he's an American.
  • The Onion: Soccer Officially Announces It Is Gay
  • In the Strong Bad Email episode "Little Questions", Strong Bad, who lives in a place called "Free Country, USA", says he loves football, but hates soccer.
  • Two Best Friends Play, although they stopped pretending being American a while ago, takes a few shots at the sport every now and then.
    Liam: Yes but England has worse things to deal with.
    Matt: Like what?
    Liam: Like soccer.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Moon the Moon," the alien race expresses this sentiment when putting the main characters into a deathmatch.
    Alien Announcer: You bore us. This is like watching soccer.
  • King of the Hill: Hank disapproves of Bobby's switch from football to soccer, and eventually convinces him to switch back to a proper American sport. The narrative itself shows in spite of Hank's dislike, the kids love soccer because the overzealous new football coach's Training from Hell veered into straight-up abuse, while the soccer coach is a little soft but is otherwise a Nice Guy. That said, Hank's attempt to talk his son out of playing is one of the funniest exchanges between them in the show:
    Hank: Bobby, I didn't think I'd ever need to tell you this, but I would be a bad parent if I didn't: Soccer was invented by European ladies to keep them busy while their husbands did the cooking.
    Bobby: ...Why do you have to hate what you don't understand?
    Hank: [offended] I don't hate you, Bobby!
    Bobby: I meant soccer.
    Hank: Oh. Oh yeah, I hate soccer, yes.
  • It's more out of ignorance than hatred, but in Phineas and Ferb, when Ferb's cousins from England suggest to play football and hold out a ball, Buford "corrects" them saying that they're holding a soccer ball and pulls out an American football. Then when they have the match, he shows up in full helmet and pads and tackles Ferb's cousins every time they have the ball.
  • Played with in Dan Vs.. When Dan is stuck in traffic behind a car that sports a "Soccer Mom" sticker, he angrily yells… that "educated people call it football !". Despite all the things he hates with a passion, it's possible that he's got nothing against association football.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "The Cartridge Family" opens with a whole slew of Take Thats at the game; a soccer tournament comes to town and the crowd quickly descends into a several-day public riot purely because they're so bored. (There's also a slightly mean-spirited joke about the contest deciding "which is the greatest country in the world: Mexico, or Portugal?")
      TV Announcer: The Continental Soccer Association is coming to Springfield! It's all here — fast-kickin', low scorin'. And ties? You bet!
    • It's the complete disinterest in the sport that allows Homer to become the perfect referee at the World Cup in Brazil. Along with his commitment to Lisa, he's adamant about refusing any and all bribes, which the sport openly embraces.
    • When Homer becomes a pundit in "Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson", soccer is one of the things he speaks ill of.
  • Teen Titans Go! has the episode "Kicking a Ball and Pretending to Be Hurt". It's shown that people only like soccer because they are mind-controlled.

     Real Life 
  • Garrison Keillor on the drawbacks of living in Europe:
    "But still there were gaps that couldn’t be filled: Danish rock-and-roll is too studied, and politics is way sedate, and in football, you can’t pick up the ball and carry it — you must push it around with your feet or bounce it off your head, which is ridiculous."
  • During one World Cup, a sports bar in New York City proudly advertised the fact that it would not be showing any games during the course of the tournament. There's even an urban legend that the bar had record business doing so, but this has never been confirmed.
  • Despite this trope, many soccer fans, especially European ones, agree the role the U.S. played regarding the corruption cases with which FIFA was involved was instrumental, even if some of them also agree the only reason the Americans became involved in the whole deal was to find a way to prevent Russia from hosting the 2018 World Cup — something they not only failed at by a mile, but also, ironically enough, the American soccer team failed to qualify to the tournament, for the amusement of many. On the other hand, many people are still arguing if the inclusion of the VAR (Video-Assisted Replay), a feature normally included in American sports like American football, and never considered for use in soccer for cultural reasons, is still considered a good idea, due to the very insistence of the American sponsors of including it.
  • While the American disdain for soccer is rightly depicted on this page, this trope could also have been called Soccer Hating Canadians. Canadians generally don't like soccer any more than Americans do, and for many of the same reasons described above. Canada's lack of success in international soccer doesn't do the sport any favors either. Their dislike of soccer may be justified though, as the colder climate and harsher weather make Canada unsuitable for soccer most of the year.
  • Or alternatively Soccer Hating Filipinos. While the rest of Southeast Asia is mad with soccer, the Philippines, a former US colony, prefers basketball instead (or volleyball for women's sport), or if they feel like it, baseball (Due to current attempts to revitalizing the sport). Their disinterest of soccer carried on until 2010, which saw a renaissance of the sport in the country due to regional success of their men's national team who went on to qualify for their very first Asian Cup by the end of the decade. The Philippines was largely able to do this by recruiting players abroad with Filipino heritage where there is a more credible soccer grassroots program. The country followed the same path in building the squad that made the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, the first FIFA tournament ever reached by any Philippines team—of the 23 members on the final squad, two were native-born Filipinas. One was born in Australia, another in Canada, one in Norway, and the rest in the States. Despite this, the Philippines still has a low opinion of the sport because its (resident) citizens regard it as expensive, which is ironic since soccer is considered one of the cheapest sports to invest in among international countries (though it should be noted that the Philippines is an economically poor nation and its national currency, the peso, is of considerably lower value compared to the currencies of other more well-off nations). Soccer, or now more known as just football in that part of the world (thanks to the Younghusband brothers' involvement in the sport, which ended up having the name change), is just viewed as a sport for the elite outside the local association football mecca in the Visayas where this trope does not apply. Common complaints of skeptics also apply in the Philippines, such as the tediously low scoring of association football matches in contrast to basketball games. Some haters even question that the fans of the game are only in it for the handsome players and pejoratively suggests that male fans are gay and generalize that fans regardless of gender don't care for the sports at all. To this day, even with the haters, it's still striving, to the annoyance of the haters (And some Filipino US football fans), right to the point that US football is less known there.
  • This video explains other countries that did not embrace soccer.

Alternative Title(s): Americans Hate Soccer