Five footballing nations on the rise with world’s most popular sport continues to grow in popularity, especially in nations not known for the sport. The recent men’s and women’s World Cup was a success in gaining more interest in football, with several new nations on the rise with their footballing talent. Here are the top five nations that are on the rise in football:
Footballing nations on the rise
For women, football (or “soccer” as it’s called in the states) has been the number one sport while dominating the world for its female side. The USWNT had become a dynasty and a leader in growing the sport not only for females in the world, but domestically as well.
Over the past few seasons, the USMNT has been developing their players and sending them to Europe at an early age, with over 90% of its starters playing in Europe. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Timothy Weah, Matt Turner, Yunas Musah, Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest have all been an example of this. This group of young players have not only shown that they are at another level than their CONCACAF partners, but are ready to face tougher competition at the international level.
Not to mention that the United States are set to host the 2024 Copa America and the 2026 World Cup, along with Mexico and Canada. All this is a prime example of the growth of soccer in the nation, which is a huge reason the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi decided to play for Inter Miami in the MLS, which has helped the popularity of the MLS grow immensely.
Saudi Arabia shocked the world after defeating Argentina in the opening match of the group stage during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The nation was in full celebration, with the King of Saudi Arabia even declaring a holiday in light of the celebrations. Despite not advancing into the next round, this is just the start of the growth of football in the nation.
Shortly following the conclusion of the World Cup, five-time Champions League winner Cristiano Ronaldo announced his move to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr. This merely broke the internet, some criticizing him for the move while some praising his efforts to grow the sport in Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, he paved the way for several other top stars to also make moves to the Saudi Pro League, including Sadio Mane, Jordon Henderson, Gabri Veiga, Aymeric Laporte, Aleksander Mitrovic, Bono, along with several others. This also prompted Brazilian star Neymar to join Al Hilal and Real Madrid legend Karim Benzema to join Al-Ittihad. In just six months, the Saudi Pro League has turned into a must-watch league, which can also create a huge upbringing of the sport in the middle east.
The country of Canada is notorious for its ice hockey and basketball, with soccer dropping to the third-most popular sport in the country. Since hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2015, the sport has been on the rise ever since. The women’s side recently won the Gold Medal during the 2020 Olympics after two bronze medal finishes in both 2012 and 2016. Despite disappointing runs at the World Cup, they have always been a growing nation.
For the men’s side, they began to become competitive in 2019 since the emergence of Alphonso Davies. Davies became a Canadian citizen in 2017 after he emigrated from Liberia as a child. He grew up in the Vancouver Whitecaps organization until making the big move to Bayern Munich. He is one of the first-named stars representing Canada as he has become one of the best left backs in the world.
Jonathan David is also another Canadian star who plays in Lille, that has changed the Canadian national team drastically. They qualified for their first World Cup since 1986 and despite a group stage elimination, they showed that they are a dangerous squad that will only get better. As they are set to co-host the World Cup in 2026, football will continue to grow in the country with both the women’s and men’s sides becoming a bigger threat to other nations at the international level.
Australia has just finished hosting the Women’s World Cup, along with New Zealand, and it was an enormous success. The tournament gained close to 900 million dollars in revenue, the most ever for a Women’s World Cup. It was also the first time that the tournament hosted 32 countries, matching the men’s total for the first time ever.
The Australians showed up, both at the stadium and at home, to watch the Matildas play. During their semifinal’s loss to England, the match drew a total of 11.15 million viewers, the most televised event in Australia’s history. With the population of the nation 25.69 million, this means that about 43% of the country tuned in to watch the game.
On the men’s side, Australia defeated both Tunisia and Denmark to make it to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006. Tim Cahill has often been noted as the “godfather” for the sport in Australia. Since retiring in 2019, Sam Kerr took over as the face of the sport in Australia as she continues to fight for the growth of the sport in the country.
The growth of football in the small Arabic country has been impressive, and it grew without anyone knowing. The 2022 World Cup brought out the best of the country, with a record-breaking run for the nation. Opening their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Croatia, they went on to beat both Belgium and Canada to take first place in Group F.
With wins against both Spain and Portugal, they became the first African nation to make the semifinals while finishing the highest for an African country at a World Cup. Since the World Cup, they sit 14th in FIFA’s recent rankings and have solidified themselves as one of the top nations in international football. In their current roster, 13 players play for the top five European leagues, while the rest play in other European competitions and Saudi Arabia.
For its women, they qualified for their first World Cup while also making history by making it to the knockout round on their debut. This followed wins against Colombia and South Korea to pull off history. Morocco will certainly be a nation to watch out for in the future as the young team will only grow and improve heading into both the 2026 World Cup and 2027 Women’s World Cup.
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