The Final Frontier of Soccer’s Globalization: The U.S., 2009 and Beyond

By Kelsey Ontko, Julia Fogleman and Lucas Nevola

Edited and Updated by Bryan Silverman (2013)


Despite the fact that soccer is still undeniably overshadowed by other mainstream sports in America, its future may be looking up.  As of 2009, there are signs that soccer may ultimately come to play a larger role in American sports culture.  The exponential growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S, combined with the men’s national team’s impressive 2-0 victory over Spain in the Confederation Cup semi-finals in June 2009, has brought attention to the sport on multiple levels.  The Hispanic migration into the U.S., which is projected to increase through 2050, has increased soccer’s participation rate amongst the working class of American society, while the success of American national team in the first decade of the 2000’s has increased soccer’s allotment of media attention and therefore expanded its fan base.

The U.S. men’s team has come a long way in since its humble beginning in the 1980’s.  The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), which controls and funds the national men’s soccer team, went broke in 1984.  At one point, USSF proposed that if it took away the national team’s players’ $5 per diem during a 20 day training camp, it could afford an extra day of training; the coach agreed [1].  In 1987, when the national youth team traveled to Honduras to play in a tournament, the federation hired volunteer makeshift tutors so the players wouldn’t miss too much school. Sunil Gulati, then the USSF chairmen of the international games committee (and now the president of the organization), served as the math teacher [2].  In 2009, however, the USSF generated $50.6 million in annual sales [3].  This revenue surplus can partially be attributed to the men’s team’s impressive performance in the summer of 2009, which increased ticket and memorabilia sales.

Between 2000 and 2010, the USSF has used its revenue to improve the development of soccer in the U.S. at all levels.  More than $51 million in grants, financial supports, and loans have been awarded to help develop coaches, players, and referees in economically disadvantaged areas [4]. Additionally, more than $22 million has been awarded to soccer clubs and organizations in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia [5].  These investments have helped to combat existing entry barriers preventing players from a low economic stratum from entering the game, which has ultimately been a significant cause of soccer’s lack of popularity in the United States. The USSF also joined forces with FieldTurf to build 22 full-size synthetic fields in 13 states across the country [6].


USSF President Sunil Gulati

USSF President Sunil Gulati

Learn more about USSF President Sunil Gulati’s efforts to expand soccer’s popularity in the U.S…


By contributing to the elimination of entry barriers and the development of infrastructure, the USSF is contributing in important ways to  are key soccer’s development.  With the success of the USSF around 2009, bringing in more revenue than in previous years, it is possible that soccer will realize its potential and become one of the mainstream sports in American culture. For that to happen, however, there will need to be more investments in soccer’s expansion in the United States.


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How to cite this article: Kelsey Ontko, Julia Fogleman and Lucas Nevola, “The Final Frontier of Soccer’s Globalization: The U.S., 2009 and Beyond,” Soccer Politics Pages (accessed on (date)).

[1] Whiteside, Kelly, USA Today, “US Soccer Then and Now”, 2009

[2] Ibid., Whiteside, Kelly

[3] Hoover, Company Profiles, “U.S. Soccer Federation”

[4] United States Olympic Committee, “United States Soccer Federation President Ed-Foster Simeon Joins Team to Bring FIFA to U.S.”, 26 June 2009

[5] Ibid., United States Olympics Committee

[6] Ibid., United States Olympics Committee

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