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June 26, 2014

Soccer fever expected to sweep region today

US, Germany battle in World Cup showdown

Today’s World Cup match against Germany presents a problem for both casual and lifelong fans, and really anybody who just wants to cheer America on: The game starts at noon on a Thursday.

Those who can will watch it at home, some may have it on at work and others could sneak out for a long lunch at a restaurant showing the match. This is, after all, Team USA’s most critical match so far as they play to advance to the elimination round of 16 teams.

Even a few years ago, the World Cup might have passed under most American’s radar, but that is becoming increasing difficult — especially in a year like this when Team USA has a shot at the fabled cup.

FIFA, the body that governs international soccer and organizes international competitions like the World Cup, said in a 2010 report after the last World Cup in South Africa that American viewership had increased by double digit percentages compared to 2006.

The average live viewership in the United States was 5.1 million in 2010, and the largest audience was 24.4 million, a 50-percent increase over the largest audience in 2006, according to FIFA.

Sunday’s match between Portugal and the United States attracted 24.7 million viewers between ESPN and Univision, according to Nielsen.

Though football — our version — still dominates the American sports field, soccer isn’t that far behind anymore. For comparison, 111.5 million people watched the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, according to Nielsen. However, 19.2 million viewers watched the final game of the World Series last year between the Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals and the last game of the NBA final between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month attracted 18 million viewers.

Locally, people are seeing this trend play out as well.

Michael Conneely, owner of the Peddler’s Daughter in Haverhill, has seen this increase in popularity through the crowds at his pub.

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