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How EA Sports' FIFA is helping to spread soccer in the USA

As a Brit who lives in America and who loves soccer (to avoid confusion and boring conversions about etymology, I use the American name for the game), I'm always impressed by how many fans I come across.

On Sundays, I play a pick-up game in Santa Cruz, and it's packed with players from all over the world, including many natives. Store clerks and coffee-shop workers, upon hearing my accent, will sometimes want to talk about the Premiership, and will often be genuinely well-informed and passionate. (There seem to be a lot of Arsenal fans in California, for some reason.)

At my kids' games, moms and dads are super into strategies, tactics and "helpful" suggestions for the coaches.

Electronic Arts reckons a fair amount of this passion can be sourced back to its FIFA series of video games. In an infographic released today, the company said that 34 percent of FIFA players became fans of professional soccer after playing the video game. The company also says that the number of people playing in-game as an MLS team has doubled in the past year. The United States is FIFA's second biggest market in the world.

My eight-year-old recently caught soccer in a big way. It happened during the World Cup earlier this year, but playing FIFA 14 with his teenage brother was also a big part of it.

When I watch him play, his ludicrously overblown little goal celebrations are lifted straight out of the game, which is a constant source of statistical fascination for him. That, and NBC Sport's excellent coverage of the Premiership, has really given him a way to engage with the game when he is not actually kicking a ball around.

There's no doubt that this video game has a significant influence on soccer as a whole in the U.S. It's interesting, because the thing that got me into American football, when I lived in England, was Madden '92.

Anyway, here's EA's infographic ...


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