The target of Justice Department indictments last week may have been FIFA, but U.S. Latinos heavily influenced its aim.
If you want a good look at growing soccer fandom in the United States, look at the television ratings of Univision during the last World Cup. In the final match alone, 9.2 million people tuned in, making it the most-viewed World Cup final in U.S. Spanish-language television history.
Univision outperformed ABC—who also showed World Cup games in 2014 along with ESPN—in the Miami and Houston markets during that final broadcast, this all according to Nielsen. In total, Univision had 80.9 million total viewers in the entire tournament, surpassing the last World Cup viewership by nearly 30 million viewers. That sort of growth is astronomical.
Univision had 80.9 million total viewers in the entire tournament.
(NBC Universal's Spanish-language station, Telemundo, outbid Univision for the 2018, 2022, and 2026 World Cups and will likely share similar ratings success among a largely Latino audience.)
The Justice Department's actions against FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, are not coincidental. Americans are starting to care about soccer. The United States is still miffed about losing the 2022 World Cup bid to Qatar. With last week's arrests, and subsequent downfall of FIFA head Sepp Blatter, the United States is showing leadership in the world of soccer.