Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Is Soccer a Way of Life or a Business?

Soccer, also known as football, holds a special place in the hearts of people around the world. It goes beyond being just a sport; it becomes a way of life, akin to a household religion. In some households, people leave work early to attend matches, engaging in passionate debates with fellow commuters on their way to the game. When the final whistle blows, the discussions continue on the journey back home, eagerly anticipating the next time they can witness their team in action on the pitch.

The Business Side of Soccer

In North America, where the pursuit of making a living is strongly emphasized, soccer is no exception. However, the essence of the game should remain simple. Each club should have the opportunity to compete in leagues such as Major League Soccer (MLS), United Soccer Leagues (USL), and National Independent Soccer Association (NISA). While NISA’s approach of creating community-based clubs without a franchise system is commendable, the lack of promotion to higher leagues poses challenges. Teams end up playing against the same opponents, vying for bragging rights within their respective leagues. Although this theory may seem appealing, it destabilizes the soccer economy for community-based teams.

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Certain well-backed teams may make mistakes but recover due to the financial resources poured into the organization. This situation parallels drowning pancakes with syrup. Take, for instance, the case of Sacramento Republic FC, a club deserving of top-flight status from the beginning. Instead, they had to navigate a complex site development process alongside an expansion fee of nearly $200 million, potentially increasing in the future. To address these issues, US Soccer must assume control and dismantle the closed system. Alternatively, FIFA could consider banning the US from sanctioning, although that would be highly upsetting.

Soccer as a Business versus a Sport

In America, it is understandable to treat soccer as a business. However, it is crucial to remember that at its core, soccer is a sport. The flawed US soccer system hampers player development, resulting in a prolonged path to professional-level play. The US men’s soccer team, for instance, has not won a World Cup in a significant period. In contrast, other countries often have a choice to either pursue football or prioritize education. The notion of doing both is widely frowned upon.

Unfortunately, in the United States, college plays a significant role in elite sports. Players must attend college and join renowned programs under exceptional coaches to have a chance at making it professionally. However, many college players never transition to the pro level. They use soccer as a means to pay for their education or bask in the popularity that comes with being an athlete on campus. Consequently, they are unable to fully focus on the sport, and this issue extends beyond soccer to other sports affected by big-money private institutions.

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Q: What is the closed system in soccer?
A: The closed system refers to a structure where there is no promotion or relegation between leagues. Teams remain in their respective leagues, potentially limiting competition and innovation.

Q: How does the US soccer system differ from other countries?
A: The US soccer system places a greater emphasis on college sports, which can hinder player development and delay their transition to the professional level.


Soccer exists as both a way of life and a business. While it is crucial to acknowledge the financial aspects and treat the sport as a business, it is equally important to preserve its essence as a sport. Striking a balance between the two is essential to ensure fair competition and flourish the beautiful game. As football enthusiasts, we must continue to advocate for a system that nurtures talent, fosters growth, and allows every club to have an equal opportunity to succeed.