Former National Football League superstar J.J. Watt says that soccer is on the way up in the United States.
The pass rusher and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year did, however, also say that the sport may never reach the heights of American football Stateside.
Speaking on Men in Blazers, Watt claimed that Americans are looking for one massive moment to help propel soccer forward. “People have been saying forever that soccer is the sport of the future, soccer’s on its way,” said Watt. “I think the problem is everybody keeps looking for one explosion of interest where it’s ‘oh my gosh, now this is America’s sport.'”
Soccer growth will be slow but steady says Watt
Instead, Watt insisted that the next World Cup could help grow the sport over a lengthy period. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico will host the 2026 World Cup tournament.
Matches will be played throughout 11 cities here Stateside. Watt also referenced the last time the U.S. hosted the Women’s World Cup in 1999.
“I don’t believe that that’s ever going to come but I do believe the last time we had [the world cup in the US] – Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain – they led a revolution, and that took years and years and years,” continued the NFL star.
“But they led that, and it took time and it’s built. I think we’re gonna have another one of those here. I don’t think it’s gonna be this thing where all of a sudden, soccer takes over the NFL.”
Former defensive end could be new Burnley co-owner
Now retired, Watt could be set to become an owner of a soccer club. The 33-year-old former football star was reportedly in Burnley last week amid talks of a minority investment opportunity.
He previously proclaimed that he was also interested in partially owning a team. Watt’s wife is also played professional soccer for the Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars.
Photo credit: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire
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