Soccer is More Than Just A Ball Game!

Trends / Realness
Federico Roales
Jan 24, 2023
For many soccer fans worldwide, watching their favorite players score goals for their country is all that matters, especially in the World Cup. But when it comes to representation in sports, Getty Images’ VisualGPS consumer survey confirms that consumers want to see “everyday people” of all ages participating, and being the main characters, in sports stories. In addition, consumers desire more images and videos of people with disabilities active in sports, as they are rarely shown.

These insights allow us to rethink and reframe the kinds of sports content we promote, including that of the game in the global spotlight right now: soccer. While several sports capture large regional audiences, soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world1, both in terms of the number of fans and of people who play.
In 2022, Getty Images searches related to soccer increased significantly with the approach of the sport’s biggest event: the men's World Cup being held in Qatar. There’s also a growing interest in imagery for women’s soccer, which continues to broaden the sport’s horizons and women's inclusion at the very highest levels of play. But what is most interesting about our customers' most‑used soccer images is the striking absence of visuals showing ordinary people playing soccer for fun. The most popular visuals focus on professional players, or on viewers watching soccer. 
With this surge in interest, we took a deeper look into why soccer is so popular. First and foremost, soccer is easy to play. All you need is a relatively flat surface (such as grass, sand, dirt, or asphalt), something—preferably spherical—to use as a ball, and objects to mark out goalposts, like stones, sticks, or even clothing. Two teams then attempt to score goals on one another using the “ball.” That’s it. Because of its basic components and easy‑to‑follow rules, soccer has a massive reach that transcends class and economic realities. There are famous scenes of children around the world playing soccer on poor terrain, using rolled‑up pairs of socks as a ball. The Spanish have a term for this: “fútbol de potrero”.2
The benefits for those who play also contribute to soccer’s popularity. According to VisualGPS, 4 out of 5 global consumers recognize that playing soccer improves physical and mental health. Consumers emphasized the social aspect (i.e., connecting with friends or family through sport), the adrenaline of competition, and how soccer gives them a way to relieve stress and disconnect mentally from their real‑world problems.

Soccer’s global impact and importance cannot be underestimated. That’s why authenticity is deeply significant for consumers who want to see themselves as players on the local field, playing soccer for fun. To achieve this, choose simplicity over showiness. Promote real‑world scenarios in which people of all ages, gender identities/expressions, body types, and ethnicities show their passion for the most popular sport in the world. Focus on the value of meeting up and spending time together, as soccer is the perfect excuse for these social occasions.

No matter who wins the game, soccer’s benefit is clear: improving the wellbeing of everyone involved, putting smiles on their faces even as their eyes are fixed on the ball.

[1] BAE Negocios
Ageing in Germany