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World Cup: Why the U.S. hasn’t fallen in love with the ‘beautiful game’

Countries around the world are crazy for soccer. Well, most of them.

Many people acknowledge the United States hasn’t gotten fully on board the soccer train, though it seems to be gaining steam. A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 28 percent of Americans consider themselves soccer fans, but 46 percent say they think it will become more popular over the next decade.

We asked some soccer fans at the Spain-El Salvador pre-World Cup match in Washington, D.C., on June 7 for their opinions.

Teacher and diehard Spain fan Antonia Diventi said she grew up with soccer in her household, following her family’s favorite teams. But in the United States, people are more interested in other professional sports. “Having the international friendlies (pre-World Cup matches) come here stateside, it really gets people motivated to go” and wins new fans, she said.

Michael Ramirez, sporting Spain’s bright red, said in other nations, soccer crosses all economic levels, but in the U.S. — back when he played in school — it was considered a “preppy” activity. That perception is changing, albeit slowly, he added.

Heather Ramirez (no relation), who was rooting for El Salvador, said soccer is a little more complicated to play and understand than other sports, but it’s worth the effort. “We watch soccer every day at home,” she admitted.

According to Abdulelah Alghamdi, getting familiar with soccer can provide insight into other cultures. “Once you understand soccer, you will understand a different culture and how they react to it.”

We’ll have more on the soccer phenomenon in the United States and abroad on Thursday’s broadcast. Joshua Barajas, Noreen Nasir and Jordan Vesey contributed to this report. Video edited by Larisa Epatko.

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