Dating back to the 1980s, fantasy sports in America are far from being the new rage in town. They have grown to be an industry estimated to be worth more than $26 billion in the United States alone. While baseball was the first sport to embrace the fantasy element, today, you can play fantasy golf or NASCAR. In America, fantasy football is the most popular format of the sport. This is because, next to baseball, football is the country’s most famous sport. However, there is one fantasy sport that the world has become obsessed with; fantasy soccer.
With a league in almost every country, soccer is hands down the most famous sport in the world. In turn, its global reach has translated to a broad interest in fantasy soccer, with the Fantasy Premier League drawing in more than six million players in 2019. Currently, statistics estimate that over 40 million people play fantasy soccer internationally. With its appeal expected to grow, that number will do so as well. What is fantasy soccer, how is it played, and why is its popularity growing?
It is not that much different from fantasy football. Participants put together a team made up of players of their choice. Usually, these players are limited to teams from one league, but of late, there have been several variations. Most fantasy soccer leagues give a participant a price budget and have restrictions on how many players they can pick from one club. Points are then awarded based on player performance achievements such as goals scored, assists made, and clean sheets kept. These points vary depending on the league in which you are participating.
You also have the option of playing in private or public leagues. For private leagues, you get to compete against those you choose, with the league membership restricted. On the other hand, memberships to public leagues are not restricted. Usually, there is a public league for each country or soccer club, with some awarding cash prizes to the winners. Though there are several fantasy soccer leagues to choose from, the Fantasy Premier League is one of the leading options out there.
The popularity of the FPL can be partly attributed to the growth the Premier League itself has experienced. A once domestic league is now a global product, with a brand recognizable in every continent. While some fantasy leagues include financial rewards, the FPL purely exists for competition. Participants are given a budget of £100 million to build a 15-man squad made; 11 starters and four substitutes. They then compete in private leagues or attempt to climb up the public league’s overall ranking.
While the FPL is the most popular, it is certainly not the only credible fantasy soccer league there is. Based on America’s MLS, MLS Soccer is one such league. You are given a budget of $120 million to build your 18-man soccer team and can either join an existing league or create one of your own. Similar to the FPL, participants can transfer squad members mid-season. But with MLS Soccer, you have a chance of winning prizes worth over $10000.
There are leagues like that are not limited to only one domestic competition. Yahoo! Fantasy soccer, for instance, allows you to participate in tournaments, including Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, and even France’s Ligue 1. Being accessible it allows you to monitor your team any time and any place. Since soccer competitions are not limited to individual leagues, there are options that cater to this.
UEFA allows you to create a 15-man team from the clubs participating in the Champion's League. You can then compete against friends, or enter leagues of play, managing your team as the tournament progresses. Your top pick could win you prizes such as Sony TVs or PlayStations. When it comes to fantasy soccer, there are many leagues available for you. The only question you need to answer is, which is the right one for you?
The competitions have added a new angle for those who watch the game of soccer. Right now, there are several blogs, websites, and online communities that have ignited a deeper interest in soccer and player performance. Also, with it being accessible, and the scoring simple, anyone can enjoy playing. The internet has taken fantasy soccer to new heights, and with a growing appeal, it’s not difficult to see why more than 40 million people compete in fantasy leagues all over the world.