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‘The Beautiful Game' Is A Major Player In The Retail Sector

Date: 6/11/10

The World Cup:  Soccer’s Global Promotional ‘Billboard’

SILVER SPRING, MD – June 11, 2010 – As soccer begins its quadrennial celebration, otherwise known as the World Cup, the sport in the U.S. seems to be as appealing at retail as it is to television viewers.  Until the World Cup final on July 11, the sport will be constantly on the minds of soccer enthusiasts around the U.S (and the world, for that matter).  That’s dynamic news for retail outlets which sell soccer jerseys, shorts, socks, shin pads, cleats, balls, goals, goalie gloves, and other accessories. 

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), there are nearly 13.7 million outdoor soccer players in the U.S. and 4.9 million indoor soccer players.  That ranks outdoor soccer as the third most popular team sport in this country.  Basketball is number one with 24.0 million players and baseball ranks second with 13.8 million players.  What makes soccer somewhat different is that some people play outdoor soccer, some people play indoor soccer, and some people play both kinds of the sport.

What’s significant about soccer is the high percentage of players who are considered ‘core’ participants, i.e. those playing the game 26 days or more a year.  In the U.S., 46% (6.3 million) of all outdoor soccer players and 33% (1.6 million) of all indoor soccer players participate on a ‘core’ basis.

From a business perspective, wholesale sales of soccer balls, uniforms, cleats, goals, and accessories were $710 million in 2009.

Listed below are some additional details on the soccer-playing population in the U.S.:

City Slickers.  47% of all outdoor soccer players live in cities of at least two million residents.
Financially Stable.  51% of all outdoor soccer players and 49% of all indoor soccer players come from homes where the household income is $75,000 or more a year.
Youth Movement.  47% of all outdoor soccer players are in the 8th grade or lower.
Boy/Girl Ratio.  61% of all outdoor soccer players are male and 39% are female.
Geographically Speaking.  37% of all outdoor soccer players live in either the mid Atlantic region or the south Atlantic region of the country.
Passionate Participants.  Of those 4.9 million indoor soccer players, 66% of them also play outdoor soccer.
Too Young to Vote.  60% of all outdoor soccer players are under the age of 18 and 51% of all indoor soccer players are under the age of 18.
Outside Interests.  The three most popular outside athletic pursuits for indoor soccer players are outdoor soccer, running/jogging, and bowling.  The three most popular outside athletic pursuits for outdoor soccer players are bowling, running/jogging, and bicycling.

While soccer has always been a game played mainly by children, that’s no longer the case as nearly 28% of all outdoor soccer players are over the age of 24.  Those players are competing in adult leagues that get together on weeknights, during the weekends, and during their lunch hours during the week.   

“Millions of Americans love to play the game of soccer and are enjoying the game well into their 30s, 40s, and 50s,” said SGMA President Tom Cove.  “Indoor and outdoor leagues exist for all age groups across the country.  Soccer has always been a sport which is driven by passion and the multicultural composition of the U.S. population helps fuel those feelings.”

“The attention that the World Cup has been getting during the last year has been dynamic exposure for the sport of soccer,” said Kris Palinchak (Title-Product Development Manager; Kelme North America; Conover, NC).  “Without a doubt, soccer is an established sport in this country which helps drive demand for our product.  If the USA does well in South Africa, it should help stimulate interest in the game among participants and will help drive traffic to retail outlets to buy soccer gear and accessories.”

“It helps our business that the US team is not only participating in the World Cup, but has a strong chance of doing well,” said Don Wetmore (Vice President of Sales & Marketing; Kwik Goal; Quakertown, PA) “As the global soccer fans follow the action at the World Cup, it will generate more media coverage and will increase interest in the game which should encourage more people to play the game.  That will be great for our business.”

“Demand for soccer product at the local level here in the Washington, D.C. area is strong, but we are also shipping large quantities of soccer product across the country,” said Matt Godek (President; Matt Godek Rugby & Soccer Supply; Merrifield, VA).  “At the club level, parents of children who play on travel and all-star teams are spending additional money on accessories and upgraded jerseys to make their child’s soccer experience more memorable and special, which is great for our business.  And younger children are more aware of national teams and the various global superstars, which helps drive sales of jerseys.” 

The sources of these facts and figures on soccer are SGMA’s Manufacturers Sales by Category Report (2010 edition) and SGMA’s Sports & Fitness Participation Topline Report (2010 edition).  Both are available from SGMA by clicking on Research at www.sgma.com.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by fostering participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion, and public policy.  More information about SGMA membership and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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