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The 2022 FIFA World Cup was full of fascinating, exciting, surprising matches throughout the tournament. None was more exciting, however, than the final between Argentina and defending champion France.
Not only was it a rousing success on the field, but off of it as well.
FOX Sports announced that over 16.7 million people watched Lionel Messi and Argentina battle Kylian Mbappe and France.
That makes it the most watched English-language World Cup match in U.S. television history, outpacing the 1994 Brazil-Italy final matchup.
Brazil-Italy had the advantage of location as well, being played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Argentina-France, meanwhile, was halfway around the world in Qatar.
Even more impressively, Argentina-France started at 7am Pacific Time. That meant it was far from primetime in massive TV markets like Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco.
Star power undoubtedly helped drive World Cup ratings, as well as rapid growth of soccer’s popularity in the U.S.
World Cup Stars Delivered
Lionel Messi is perhaps the most recognizable name in international soccer, with Kylian Mbappe not far behind.
Messi’s quest to win a World Cup has been a major story ever since Argentina fell to Germany in 2014. With this being almost certainly his final opportunity, fan interest was at an all time high.
Facing the defending champs definitely helped too, with France having star power and a chance to repeat.
The length and excitement of the match contributed, as more and more people likely tuned in as the tension built up.
But soccer also continues to show growth in the U.S., which sets up a potentially gigantic 2026 tournament.
With the U.S. team showing strong potential and many sites hosting prime time matches, ratings and interest could skyrocket.
And who knows, with Messi unlikely to play, maybe the USMNT will have a chance to advance a bit further and break some records themselves.