Despite Mexico getting knocked out and the United States not making an appearance at the FIFA World Cup, local business owners say patrons are still showing up to watch matches in Hays County.
Acopon Brewing Company in Dripping Springs is one of the few Hays County soccer hotspots. Acopon plays most of the Premier League games during the season, but interest in soccer among its customers has ramped up since the World cup began in mid-June.
Co-owner John McIntosh said they have had a good turnout of soccer fans at the bar for matches, even though the local favorites aren’t in the running. This year marks the first time since 1986 that the men’s United States men’s national soccer team failed to qualify for the world’s biggest sports event, and Mexico was defeated by Brazil in early July.
The United States’ apathy for “the beautfiul game” is known worldwide.
An ESPN sports poll showed soccer as the fourth most popular team sport in the United States since 2006, when it overtook hockey. Soccer consistently ranks first in virtually every other country in Asia, Africa and Europe.
During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, viewership reached over 3.2 billion people worldwide, according to a FIFA 2011 report.
“The big challenge for Americans is the U.S. didn’t qualify. And then Mexico went out, that’s their default back up team,” McIntosh said. “It will be curious to see what happens for the other matches.”
His favorite memory from showing the World Cup at the bar is when a Belgian couple came to watch a match their national team play. Belgium ended up winning.
“They had a great time,” McIntosh said. “When Belgium won, they said it was their custom to buy everyone a round. No one complained about that.”
Dedicated soccer fans are not the only customers coming in to watch matches; McIntosh said they have had in patrons who are not fans of the sport, some who are even watching soccer for the first time.
“Half of what we do is explain the rules of the game to people,” he said. “People ask, and we’re happy to explain it.”
McIntosh recommends watching a match at a bar or pub for the best experience.
“It’s a lot of fun. Soccer is definitely a world sport, even if it is peculiarly underrepresented in the U.S.,” he said. “When you get a good crowd in here, it’s a lot of fun. A game can change quickly, and it’s exciting.”
The final match is scheduled to take place July 15 at 10 a.m.