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World Cup 2010: Anticipation and expectation

The U.S. soccer team plays Slovenia on Friday in its second match of World Cup 2010, and many wonder if a strong run in the tournament could boost the relatively anemic interest Americans have in what others around the world regard as "the beautiful game."

Before the World Cup started, Americans were among the least apt to say they were "very" excited about the upcoming vuvuzela-fest, at 11 percent. Interestingly, that was about on par with the interest level in perennial powerhouses France (11 percent "very" excited) and Spain (14 percent).

These numbers come from the Pew Research Center's freshly released Global Attitudes survey, which measured anticipation and expectations for the World Cup across 22 countries, including 11 whose national teams are taking part in the high-profile event.

The tournament, taking place in Africa for the first time, spurred the deepest anticipation among those in two African nations surveyed. In Nigeria, 56 percent said they were "very" excited about it, while 46 percent of Kenyan respondents said the same. The poll did not include a reading among residents of host nation South Africa.

In Egypt, the only other African nation surveyed, 34 percent said they were "very" excited about the tournament. Elsewhere, deep excitement topped four in 10 in just two countries -- South Korea (42 percent) and Indonesia (41 percent) -- and came close to that among respondents in heavy-favorite Brazil (38 percent).

When asked who might win the tournament, respondents were all over the map -- literally. Only in Brazil and Spain (where majorities picked their own team) did any one squad receive majority support. One clear pattern does emerge, however: double-digits in 21 nations said they expect Brazil to win this year. (The one exception is Pakistan, where 86 percent had no opinion on the matter.)

Brazilians themselves are deeply confident in their side, with 75 percent picking their squad to win it all. No other country matches that level of expectation for its own team, but those in Spain, Argentina, Germany, Mexico and Nigeria were more apt to pick their national squad than Brazil.

Another South American team also draws high expectations from respondents across several nations: More than 10 percent of respondents in four nations picked Argentina to leave South Africa with a championship. France topped 10 percent in three of the 22 countries surveyed, while Germany, reigning champion Italy and Spain hit double-digits in two. (Italians were not surveyed for this project, though according to some reports, home-country pride may not have boosted their total.)

A majority opted out of the question in the United States, where 13 percent favored Landon Donovan and his American mates to win it all and 12 percent picked Brazil.

The surveys were conducted before the tournament started, among random samples within each nation. More details on the methodology can be found here.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  June 18, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Soccer  
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At least the American public have a realistic approach to soccer. In Britain, the media hype for this world cup is such that even with a mediocre team, we are all expected to glue ourselves to the TV whenever the overpaid and undertalented footballers play.

Many English people could care less who wins the world cup, which long ago ceased to be of any interest to anyone except those who are making money out of it. It suits our government to have the population fixated on soccer, which in our Godless land is now the opiate of the masses.For millions of us there is no escape during the world cup. Soccer rules.

Posted by: gsaracen | June 18, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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