Football, or as our American friends like to call it, soccer, is a sport that has been around for a couple of hundred years. It is a national treasure, a worldwide phenomenon, and, for some people, the most popular sport for betting. It attracts people from all walks of life and of all ages.
What makes football so popular in Europe? We already know that it is one of the most played sports on the planet, but why Europe in particular? Let’s find out.
Born in Europe
The Aztecs and Mayans aside, and full respect to similar games in Asia, but I will always stand by the fact that football, as we know it today, was born in Europe. In England, in fact.
Many moons ago, in the early 1800s, football was played in English schools. If you want to be a bit technical, I could agree that the game was played even before in the 15th century in Scotland. However, the rules used today are very similar to those in England when the first Football Association was created.
So, the simple answer would be that football is older than many European nations, even if some of them only changed their name and size. It is a sport that, for today’s Europeans, has always been around and will, most likely, be around long after we are gone.
There is a whole football culture in European countries. As many young people play some form of the game, they also band together in supporting the local and national teams. It is a matter of pride, a matter of tribe, and, ultimately, belonging. It resonates with our inner need to make everything ‘us vs them’.
It is because of this that many football clubs have their own supporters’ clubs. People organize together to attend the most important matches of their favourites. Unfortunately, it’s been known that some supporters’ groups take the ‘us vs them’ a bit too far and forget what football is all about.
This tribal feeling extends to whole communities. Similar to what American football fans experience, when there is a win, it is celebrated throughout the town or city. When the team experiences a defeat, however, the whole community becomes depressed, especially if an important match was on the line.
It Is Easy to Set Up
Unlike many other sports, like cricket, for example, you don’t need expensive equipment to play a game with your mates. Every man, woman, and child knows that all you really need is a ball and some space.
If you can fashion goal posts, great. If not, there is something in the environment that can suffice.
Of course, professional football kits for when we decide to join a local team can be a bit on the expensive side. However, that still does not come close to what other sports demand of their prospective athletes in terms of membership and gear.
The final reason football is so popular and important in Europe is that it is universal and unifying. There are different nations with different customs, traditions, and culture which are able to come together for this game we all enjoy.
It is a kind of unification that has not been achieved with other cultural phenomena, like music, language, mindset, religion, and political system. Football brings us all together.