Soccer, known internationally as futbol, is the most popular sport in the world with 209 countries around the world participating in the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). In the United States there were 12,726,000 soccer participants as of 2013; figures estimate that there are over 240 million people who play soccer around the world combined. Here are some facts on some of the most serious soccer countries around the globe.
The beloved sport was first invented in medieval England at some point, although the game as we know it today has existed only since 1863 when modern rules for the code were established. England won its only World Cup in a historic and controversial match against West Germany in 1966.
For 150 years, Sweden has slowly started incorporating soccer into nearly every corner of the country. There are currently around 3,300 futbol clubs in the nation that boast 32,700 teams — rivalries can be as serious as those between foreign powers in some cases.
Latin American countries like Costa Rica spend serious time and money on soccer games. There are several basic facilities small towns with less than 200 people need in Costa Rica: stores; a place of worship; and of course a soccer field. Soccer fields literally dot the country like pock marks due to the popularity of the sport.
Italy takes soccer seriously, as the nation has over 4,363,000 annual players every year. In the nation’s history, Italy has won four World Cups to date: 1934, 1938, 1982, and most recently in 2006.
Spain has been a rising star in the soccer world since they took their first and only FIFA World Cup in 2010 when they beat the Netherlands in South Africa. Spain’s Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona is the third largest stadium in the world with a seating capacity of 99,786.
Looking Forward to the Years to Come
The next world cup won’t be until 2018, but that provides soccer fans with the opportunity to save up for world cup tours. These vacation packages take passengers to countries like Spain, Sweden, Costa Rica, Italy, and England among others to experience some of the most exciting qualifying matches in the world. With Moscow, Russia hosting the championship matches, those planning on world cup tours have a few years to brush up on their Russian before the trip!