Asia As A Rising Force in Soccer
Soccer is a rising sport in Asia, adding much popularity in the last three decades. There are more soccer fans in Asia than there are anywhere else in the world. They make up more than a third of people who watch the EPL, and the numbers are only going upwards. The sport actually originated in China, and today, its future is also in the hands of Asia. Here is the full breakdown of soccer’s popularity in the Eastern Hemisphere.
The first few decades of the 21st century have seen a boom in soccer in Asia. Europe has a huge head start with soccer as a popular sport and business. Popular clubs like Manchester United have more than a hundred years of experience. Asia is catching up competitively due to a large number of talented young players. It is unclear when the shift will be truly visible but it’s going to happen.
An Emerging Force
The Asian qualifiers for FIFA are ongoing, but there are no signs yet that any of the teams will make it past the quarterfinals. Most experts say that the Asian teams still lack the necessary experience and skill. Beating the toughest opponents, winners of the more competitive qualifiers, will be a big test. Only once in the history of football has that happened, to South Korea. That ended in 1-3 against Mexico, 0-5 against the Netherlands, and a 1-1 draw against Belgium. Since then, no Asian team has stepped past the quarterfinals.
This all might change in Qatar next year. If it doesn’t happen in 2022, it’s certain a breakthrough will happen soon. Japan and South Korea are the prime candidates. Both nations have established themselves as the Asian powerhouses of soccer. Soccer’s popularity is soaring in both. It’s only a matter of time before exceptional talents prove themselves on an international level.
Sports betting has always been a part of any sport, and soccer is no exception to the rule. In countries such as Japan, South Korea, and India, betting on soccer is as common as in Western countries. Keita M, editor of a popular Japanbets.com blog notes the total market value of sports betting will soon exceed the $10 billion dollars yearly.
How are they Ranked?
South Korea made it through the quarterfinals once. Despite their history they are ranked below Iran in FIFA rankings. South Korea currently occupies the 37th spot and Iran the 22nd. Japan is currently 26th. Other Asian teams are ranked much lower. Saudi Arabia is next highest at 48th place.
Perhaps the most potential for the future are two of the lowest ranked Asian teams. China, ranked 74th, is a very long way from number one. The Chinese, in general, do not shy from a difficult task. Once they set a goal, they will absolutely demolish anything that stands in their way. The other country with incredible future potential is India currently ranked 103rd.
Both countries’ populations exceed the 1.5billion mark. It gives both large pools of potential new players who will match or exceed Europe’s talent. The process is not a quick one. However, the quick development of youth programs and increasing domestic popularity will play a big role. The internal pressure to succeed in both countries is intense. The governments of both countries consider this a point of national pride. Government support for rapid advancement in a sport generally leads to results.
Much of Europe and South America have already proved that they are great soccer players. North America seems indifferent to international soccer. Sports fans there are already overwhelmed with baseball, American football, ice hockey, and more. The US and Canada seem less interested than Asia to prove themselves on the soccer field. When you think that over half of all fans and players are in Asia, you see the full room of potential here.
South Korea and Japan are starting to realize that the next billionaire football player like Ronaldo or Messi can be born on their land. Money, fame, and respect all drive that desire to prove themselves. That’s a great part of sports and more power to them. Wouldn’t we all get bored if the same countries kept dominating the World Cup forever?
We expect them to make swift progress. If not in 2022 Qatar, then 2026 in North America. There’s just no way for Asia to back down from taking what they can after they put so much work into breaking into the sport. The only way is forward from now on.