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Americans are surprisingly confident and weirdly unpatriotic when it comes to the World Cup

June 11, 2014
June 11, 2014

The Upshot, the New York Times’s analytical/explainer blog launched earlier this year, has released  a really terrific survey  this morning on attitudes in 19 countries toward the World Cup.

There is a lot to get through, but (from this writer’s perspective, at least) some of the more interesting takeaways include:

  • 60% of the 1,197 Americans surveyed said they are “not interested” in soccer, the highest proportion of all countries in the survey. (That would appear to inconsistent with my argument that Americans are finally embracing the world game.) But then again, it also means 40% are “very” or “somewhat” interested in the sport and it’s not clear how this has changed over time. It’s also worth noting that in England, which is supposedly obsessed with soccer (ahem, “football”), 50% of respondents also said they are not interested in the sport.
  • Americans were the only nation whose top answer to “what is your least favorite team” was their own country’s team; 5.4% of Americans answered “the US”,  slightly ahead of the 5.2% of Americans who named  Russia and the 4.9% who named Iran as their least favorite team (though on a sample of this size, these differences would be within the survey’s margin of error). That said, 6.5% of Brazilian and 6.7% of French respondents are also cheering against their own country, but more Brazilians said Argentina was their least favorite, and slightly more French are cheering against Algeria.
  • Almost everyone thinks Brazil is the most likely to win the World Cup. The only countries where more people favor another team all favor their own teams: Spain (47.5% of respondents), Argentina (46.6%), and the US (14%). To be fair, a majority (55.1%) of Americans said they “don’t know” who will win.
  • The deepest mutual hatred is between South Korea and Japan. Some 40% of Japanese respondents are cheering against South Korea, and 38% of South Koreans are cheering against Japan. In other notable rivalries, the feeling is less mutual. A full 34% of Brazilians said they are rooting against Argentina, but only 13% of Argentinians are rooting against Brazil; the Argentinians’ least favorite team (19%) is England.

The Times has put the methodology and the data behind the survey up on GitHub here, which is great, because there is plenty more to play with.

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