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European football is more entertaining than the NFL

Toni Kroos of Germany dribbles past Austrian player Julian Baumgartlinger in the 2012 UEFA Euro competition. Photo by Steindy

I’m not sure if the motivation I got for this story is due to the fact that I’m a Denver Broncos fan (4-8 record), or because of the current state of entertainment of soccer in Europe. 

A common theme for the average American sports fan is to immediately discredit soccer, mainly due to stereotypes of players diving for penalties, “soft” players, and calling it “boring” because goals are much rarer than touchdowns, or points in a basketball game. 

This article is here to dispel that. 

Before I get into it, I’d like to clear one thing up: I love college football, and I used to love the NFL. This article is meant to be a comparison between the NFL and the Top 5 leagues in Europe, the UEFA Champions League, and the FIFA World Cup. 

I’d like to start off by saying the NFL has been nothing but a disappointment to watch the last two years. This all is a combination of the Patriots winning the most boring Super Bowl ever viewed, insanely soft rule changes, injury plagued NFL rosters, and the unavailability of watching games (west coast people should know what I’m talking about). All these factors are concerns for both NFL owners, fans, and TV services. 

There is a reason that Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar are the world’s highest paid athletes, as per Forbes. It is because soccer’s outreach is limitless. Players such as the three listed are on posters of kids’ bedroom walls in 6 continents. They are all household names. You couldn’t name your child “Leo” or “Cristiano” without people asking if they were named after the soccer stars. 

Now try that with NFL star names like “Aaron” or “Russell” after the two highest paid NFL players: Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. This just shows how big of an impact these players have worldwide.

The 2018 World Cup, known widely as soccer’s most relevant competition – was viewed by 3.572 billion people worldwide. 

The 2019 Super Bowl? A mere 98.2 million, the lowest in a decade. 

What you see here is, the NFL is dying. People can point the finger at a number of people: Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner, NFL team owners, or players themselves – a common one being Kaepernick. 

What Colin Kaepernick did in 2016 altered the league, divided viewers, and exposed NFL owner’s greed. Kap did not do one thing wrong under the law, but only under the predisposed agenda of the NFL. For Colin to be unemployed for almost four years now exposed just how much power owners have in the NFL, who operate under their own rules. 

Whether you agree with him or not, we can all agree that the NFL has not been the same since. The NFL lost viewers, whether it be protesting against Kaepernick or for him. Since then, the NFL has made a slew of decisions not for the interest in making things more entertaining. 

As European football battles the VAR rule change (a system that checks goals, offsides, and any referee calls), American football battles rule changes revolving around protection against head injury, or any injury at all. Quarterbacks are treated like 75 year-old grandpas playing Thanksgiving football rather than the 6’6’’, 250 pound, trained specimens that the NFL swears they aren’t. Penalties in the NFL disallow defensive players to hit the quarterback with any force that they’re used to, let alone a pop warner player is used to. 

As we move on from the “No Fun League,” we can talk about why European football is so much more entertaining. There is a variety of cups to win within their given countries, a league title for every European country, and the UEFA Champions and Europa League, where different countries’ top performing teams duke it out to see who is the best European squad. That’s just club play, and not even international play. Sounds a little bit more exciting than the equivalent of the NFL and the Canadian Football League battling to see who’s the best football team in the world. 

Football fans in America are awesome. I love watching videos of Bills Mafia give themselves concussions and broken ribs as they slam their bodies through tables, and the loudness of fans in Seattle and Kansas City, but they do not compare to fans in Europe. 

One thing that Europeans take seriously is their undying support of their club. European “ultras” (fans that take fandom to another level). Using flares, large posters, and most importantly organization, they often voice their opinions, recently beginning to vocalize their opinions towards the commercialization of the sport. Legia Warsaw, a Polish team, have one of the most infamous ultras, and are notorious for taking politics into the stadium.

From fans who can put Alabama’s student section to shame, with both beer drinking and team support, to the loads of talent to watch, it is hard to not describe the game as “beautiful.”  On a personal level, nothing has had me running down the street yelling with my soccer fan of a mom as America wins the Women’s World Cup, or the happiness and agony that Tottenham Hotspur has put me through the past few years. As I love football, the money hungry owners that coincide the NFL are ruining the fan’s experience.