World Cup expectations: what now?

July 01, 2014, 9:55 PM GMT+0

This year's World Cup is proving more popular than 2010's, but now that the U.S. has been eliminated half of Americans aren't rooting for anyone

Soccer (or “football,’ according to the rest of the world) is gaining in popularity in the United States, with just under a third following the World Cup very or somewhat closely, up from 23% in 2010. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted in the days immediately before the U.S. faced Belgium in the Round of 16, the public rooted overwhelmingly for the United States.

The percentage paying no attention to the World Cup has dropped 12 points since 2010. Younger adults (those under 30) are paying more attention than older age groups. More than half of Hispanics are closely following the competition – perhaps no surprise since six Latin American teams advanced to the World Cup’s knockout rounds.

Despite the increased interest, Americans don’t necessarily think this World Cup is more exciting than usual – not even those paying close attention. Less than half of them would describe this World Cup as more exciting than most.

Now that the U.S. team has been eliminated, the attention levels may decrease, but the sport is gathering fans. And, like fans everywhere else in the world, they were cheering for the national team. By better than ten to one, Americans wanted the U.S. to win.

And 7% expected that would happen. Four in ten believed the U.S. would do better than it did, and make it beyond the Round of 16. Those paying close attention were even more optimistic. More than half expected the U.S. to keep going.

And what now? Nearly half of those who supported the U.S. team say they won’t root for anyone at all. But two teams who will be in the quarterfinals are preferred by those who have a choice: the host country Brazil and Germany, the team which narrowly beat the U.S. in group competition. Brazil is especially favored by those paying close attention.

While Mexico is also popular, it, like the United States, was eliminated from Cup competition this weekend.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.