Southern California gets ready for the World Cup

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Local bars like Ye Olde Kings Head will be showing the games. The four-hour time difference between California and Rio de Janeiro means business will be good. Photo: Saul Gonzalez

Every four years, billions of people across the planet, usually divided by faith, politics and language, come together to focus their attentions and passions on the World Cup, the highest profile soccer (or football, if you prefer) competition in the world. This year the World Cup is being held in Brazil, where 32 qualifying national teams will play at 12 different stadiums across the country. Beyond those stadiums, it’s estimated more than 3 billion people will watch at least some part of the Cup in the coming weeks on television and online. The final championship match is expected to draw 1.3 billion viewers.

The United States used to be an island of athletic isolation when it came to the World Cup, paying little attention as the rest of the world tuned in. But as soccer has become more accepted as a “real” sport in America, Southern California stands out as a bastion of soccer fandom. That’s partly thanks to our population of immigrants and expats from soccer-loving countries.

Listen to our story here about how some Southern California soccer fans and businesses are preparing for the kick off of the World Cup.

Growing interest in the World Cup in the United States has been powered by wider changes in American society and sports culture, such as increased immigration from soccer-loving countries and the popularity of youth soccer. The establishment of an enduring pro soccer league, Major League Soccer, has also been crucial. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)
Growing interest in the World Cup in the United States has been powered by wider changes in American society and sports culture, such as increased immigration from soccer-loving countries and the popularity of youth soccer. The establishment of an enduring pro soccer league, Major League Soccer, has also been crucial. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)
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Soccer’s popularity growth is fueled by Southern California’s diverse immigrant population, representing many soccer-playing countries. Photo: Saul Gonzalez
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Soccer fans are swarming to sports stores to get jerseys to show off their nationalism. Photo: Saul Gonzalez
Local bars like Ye Olde Kings Head will be showing the games. The four-hour time difference between California and Rio de Janeiro means business will be good. Photo: Saul Gonzalez