A World Cup without the United States, but Not Without American Fans

March 20, 2018


The U.S. Men’s National Team (client) suffered a surprising and disappointing exit last fall in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament, but just because the U.S. won’t be fielding a team on the world’s grandest soccer stage, it doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of fans in our country following the competition. Marketers should take note that an important reason for this level of interest is that Hispanics, who account for nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population, are rabid about soccer and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and are ready to engage full bore come this summer.

ThinkNow Research’s Hispanic Soccer Fan Study, conducted in December 2017 and unveiled this month, shows that Hispanic respondents are significantly more likely to plan to tune in to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The study, which surveyed adults who demonstrate either neutral or positive intent to watch any of the 2018 FIFA World Cup matches, showed that while 35 percent of non-Hispanics indicated they were very likely to watch, 55 percent of Hispanics responded that they planned to do so.

And that enthusiasm extends beyond the TV screen. Fifty-five percent of Hispanics surveyed plan to follow matches, highlights and results at least once per day compared to 36 percent of the rest of the population. They also plan to take to social media to engage in the conversation with 52 percent of Hispanics stating that they expect to engage with others on social media to discuss the 2018 FIFA World Cup at least once per day compared to 31 percent for the rest of the population.

The reason behind this level of enthusiasm among Hispanics is easy to understand. The large majority of them were born in or trace their origins to countries where soccer is the principal sport, and several of those will be competing in Russia. For many Hispanics, soccer and the World Cup elicit strong emotional connections, as the study reports. Fifty-seven percent of Hispanics indicate that the World Cup offers a chance for them to reconnect with their heritage in contrast to only 29 percent of non-Hispanics; and 68 percent of Hispanics say that watching the World Cup is an occasion for family to get together, compared to 46 percent of non-Hispanics.

Although some marketers in the United States may have decided to scale back their plans to leverage the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the results of ThinkNow Research’s study reinforce that this global event presents a great opportunity to engage with the Hispanic audience and tap into their passion for the beautiful game.