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7 Ways the World Cup May Impact Major League Soccer

It feels like the last Word Cup was just yesterday. Remember that feeling of sitting around your television and watching the U.S. in the World Cup, which Germany eventually won? Unfortunately, fans this year can’t cheer on our soccer team in Russia because the U.S. didn’t qualify. However, some people believe the World Cup could impact U.S.-based Major League Soccer (MLS).
Here are seven things to look for. 

  1. Impact on Ticket Sales and TV Viewership
    Ticket sales and television viewership for MLS games could decline if people turn their attention to international games after the World Cup ends.

  2. Impact on Merchandise
    While the MLS only has 19 players participating in the World Cup, depending on how well they perform, those players’ merchandise sales could skyrocket.

  3. Impact of Scheduling
    The MLS season runs from March through September. Due to the World Cup, the league is taking a nine-day break in June. As such, MLS players (other than the 19 who went to Russia) are getting a brief summer sabbatical. Disruption to the league’s regular season competition is minimal. 

  4. Impact on Talent
    There is no bigger stage than the World Cup to showcase talent. This can act as an excellent scouting opportunity for MLS teams to find their next superstar player, similar to what we saw with David Beckham.

  5. Impact on Sponsorship
    Any company’s sponsorship dollars can only go so far. The question is: Will any amount of sponsorship dollars from companies shift from the MLS to World Cup?

  6. Impact on Fans
    The impact on fans is probably the biggest win for the sport. Fans new and old get to see additional world-class soccer when the World Cup comes around.  This generates excitement and cultivates a new generation of fans for all leagues.

  7. Impact on the 2026 World Cup?
    With MLS sending 19 players to Russia for nine days, this did not make much of an impact on MLS. Will the same be said when the U.S. hosts the World Cup in 2026? Qualifying for 2022 World Cup could help cement our status as a team that belongs on the world stage as MLS strives to be a league that competes with the best leagues across the country. There are more hurdles to climb before we get a presumed-automatic bid in the 2026 World Cup and that both the U.S. Men’s National Team and MLS have a significant room to grow between now and then.

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport.  Every four years soccer fans new and old come together to watch the biggest games in the World Cup.  Major League Soccer hopes that the continued popularity of the sport internationally paraded on the world stage will only help bring in new fans to their league.  No American participation in 2018 hurts, but soccer fans in America have something to continue to strive for and Major League Soccer can lead the way.

Related Content:
The Economics of Sports: The 2018 FIFA World Cup
Russia Passes Special 2018 FIFA World Cup Tax Regulations
Taxation of Athletes Participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup
7 Ways the World Cup May Impact Major League Soccer

Brett Vinokur is an Audit Manager with years of audit and accounting experience serving both public and private entities with a focus on sports and entertainment, manufacturing and distribution, and financial services.

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