Football vs. Futbol: How and Why Both Sports Dominate

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
football vs futbol

The two most popular sporting events — nationally and globally — share the same name but have many differences. What about American football and world futbol (or soccer to the US) brings out the biggest fans? Let’s take a deep dive into the history of each sporting event, a full football versus futbol breakdown.

History Of Futbol

Professional soccer is rumored to have its origins some 2,000 years ago. The Aztecs would play a similar game involving a rubber ball where they would only use their feet. In the 1800s, the more modern version played in England would last the test of time. FIFA, the world’s futbol governing body, was founded in 1904.

The first FIFA World Cup was held in 1930. Jules Rimet, president of FIFA then, aimed to push an international tournament encompassing teams worldwide. The first tournament saw only 13 teams compete. Today, the World Cup sees a 48-team final tournament with 200 teams competing for qualifiers for two years prior.

Only eight countries have ever won the FIFA World Cup, with Brazil seeing the most wins with five championships.

FIFA World Cup Winners And Amount Of Championships

  • Brazil 5
  • Italy 4
  • Germany 4
  • Argentina 2
  • Uruguay 2
  • France 2
  • Spain 1
  • England 1

Argentina is the most recent World Cup Champion after taking out France in an all-time thriller.

History of Football

American football began in the late 1800s, with its roots stemming from soccer and rugby. The name “football” originates from the beginning of the sport itself. In the sport’s early days, the style of play was more akin to the soccer structure. The forward passing style of play did not become the norm until after the game had its name. Despite the change in game type, the name stayed the same.

The first college football game was played between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869. The more modern version of American football that is known today took form in the 1880s. Popular rugby player Walter Camp from Yale put forth rule changes that helped shape the identity of football.

Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, football began taking shape and growing in popularity. Athletics clubs began sponsoring their own football teams. Eventually, the need for a professional league was apparent. In 1920 in Canton, Ohio, at the Hupmobile showroom, athletics club owner of the Canton Bulldogs, Ralph Hay, organized a meeting that would go on to found the National Football League.

World Cup vs. Super Bowl Viewership

In terms of viewership, futbol is much larger than football. According to FIFA, the 2022 World Cup Final saw 1.5 billion viewers, with the opening match seeing 550 million viewers. In contrast, Super Bowl LVII saw record-breaking viewership and only managed to rake in an estimated 113.06 million in viewership. The World Cup is by far the biggest sporting event in the world.

In the group game between Japan and Costa Rica, an average audience of 36.37 million views was recorded in Japan. This was a 74% increase from the average group stage audience during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In Argentina, 81.3% of the total audience share watched La Albiceleste vs. Mexico.

In Spain, 65% of all viewers watched La Roja vs. Germany, with 11.9 million viewers nationwide. In the Netherlands, 76.6% of the audience share watched the Ecuador vs. Netherlands matchup. The popularity of the World Cup encompasses entire nations.

The largest soccer stadium in the world is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium on Rungra Island, Pyongyang, North Korea, which can hold up to 150,000 fans. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey is the largest in the NFL and can hold up to 82,500 fans.

How Sports Bettors Embrace The Super Bowl And World Cup

Futbol vs. football in terms of betting shows relative similarities among fans. Fans have been betting on soccer events for as long as the sport has been around. Now, with more mobile sports betting options than ever, fans worldwide bet on events like the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup saw an estimated $35 billion in bets, a 65% increase from the 2018 World Cup. The advent of online sports betting has pushed the World Cup to see these numbers. In the US, 20.5 million American adults wagered on the World Cup for $1.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the NFL is the most wagered on yearly sporting events in the US. Super Bowl 2023 reportedly saw 50.4 million American adults wager for $16 billion in bets. In the US, NFL and soccer fans average betting between $10 and $25 on games.

How Much Fans Pay To Enjoy An NFL Game vs. A Soccer Match

football vs. futbol

Another examination of futbol vs. football is how both sports bring out the fans on game day. The average cost of an NFL game ticket is $111.75 in U.S. dollars (USD) compared to $70 USD for a soccer match. During the Super Bowl, the average ticket price in 2023 was $3,480 USD. During the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final, an average ticket would run fans $1,607 USD.

On average, a pint of beer at an NFL stadium would run fans $9.56. This is comparable to a Premier League game’s £7.60 ($9.94 USD) per pint.

NFL Grows In Popularity Globally; Soccer Grows In The US

While the NFL is the most popular sports league in the US, it has begun growing its global appeal. A fifth of consumers globally say they are interested in the NFL or it is one of their top interests. The NFL has strong support in Canada, Mexico, Britain, Germany, United Arab Emirates and Australia.


The league has noticed and expanded into playing global games during the regular season. There will be five international games during the 2023 season played across London and Frankfurt, Germany. The NFL has even considered expanding the league to have teams in Europe.

Meanwhile, Americans have increasingly embraced soccer, especially during the World Cup. The World Cup Final saw a combined 25,783,000 in viewership in the US. This is the highest viewership for the men’s World Cup in the States. In 2018, when the US beat Japan in the Women’s World Cup, saw 26.7 million viewers domestically.

Futbol and football are major sporting events with solid fans and sports betting support. Both events will continue to grow in popularity going forward.