DETROIT - Football may not be the national
sport, but Americans in bars, on Wall Street trading floors and
even in the White House are cheering hard for their team during
its World Cup run.
Striker Landon Donovan's last-gasp goal against Algeria on
Wednesday allowed the American team to advance to the knockout
round for a game against Ghana on Saturday. Many Americans
Bars from New York to Houston to San Francisco enjoyed the
World Cup's early-morning first-round games that boosted demand
for beers and breakfasts, and more of the same is expected on
"We wouldn't have a single person here because we wouldn't
even be open yet," said Jason King, general manager of the
Claddagh Irish Pub outside Detroit, where about 100 fans clad
in red, white and blue drank beer at 10am EDT and cheered
for the U.S. team playing against Slovenia last week.
Soccer is a growing sport in the United States and the
World Cup, being played in South Africa, will help if TV
audiences are any indication.
The U.S. soccer team's game versus England drew almost 17
million viewers between Walt Disney Co's ABC network
and Spanish-language Univision, making it the
country's most-viewed first-round World Cup match ever, while
ESPN's broadcast of the critical third game against Algeria was
the most-watched soccer game in the sports network's history.
King said business was up as much as 15 percent, and dinner
business had not suffered. Others among the 500,000 U.S. bars
and restaurants said sales were up as much as 20 percent as
many opened at 6a. EDT to show early-round
"Basically, anybody who has a TV has seen business pick
up," said Bruce Grindy, chief economist with the National
Retailers also caught the wave, as companies selling
licensed goods online or in stores saw an increase in sales,
said Daniel Butler, National Retail Federation's vice president
of retail operations.
"As we have more and more people who have come from other
parts of the world to live here, it's broadened the interest in
the sport," he said. "There's potential down the road for this
to be as big as the Super Bowl."
Since the American squad began qualifying again for the
World Cup tournament in 1990, it has seldom been seen as a
threat, advancing out of group play only twice before this
TRADING FLOOR ROARS
Large U.S. companies like the World Cup too.
On Wednesday, Nike Inc, the largest global player
in the athletic shoe and clothing market, said revenue for
soccer-related gear was up 39 percent during the fourth
"And that's before the first goal was scored at the World
Cup," Chief Executive Mark Parker said on a conference call.
Nine World Cup teams, including the United States and
Brazil, are sporting Nike uniforms and England is wearing a
jersey bearing the company's Umbro brand.
Meanwhile, on Wall Street trading floors, roars were heard
after each American goal as traders gathered around TVs to
watch the U.S. team in the first-round games.
"A lot of people are following the game and rooting hard,"
said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities
from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
World Cup fever is even in play at the White House, where
games from the tournament have been shown on a large TV screen
in the White House press briefing room, and spirits were high
heading into the G20 summit in Toronto.
"We believe we come to the summit in a position of great
strength buttressed by ... a victory in Group C of the World
Cup," one senior administration official said.
The official said that in addition to the global economy,
Iran and Afghanistan, President Barack Obama also would discuss
the U.S. team's success at the expense of England's when he met
new British Prime Minister David Cameron for the first time.
"I'm sure President Obama will be able to make a few points
in that regard," the senior administration official said.
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