The football vs futbol debate has gone on for as long as these two sports have sorta shared a name, with football finding most of its popularity in the United States of America and futbol finding fans and active participants in just about every country in the world.
But what about each sport’s championship?
How does the NFL’s Super Bowl and FIFA’s World Cup measure up against each other?
We’re about to take a quick, side-by-side look at these two ‘football’ championships to determine which one draws a bigger audience and therefore a bigger paycheck for its league, its sponsors and its participants.
Let’s start by understanding what it takes to get to each of these two championship matchups.
The Super Bowl is the final game of the National Football League (NFL) season usually played in the first week of February, the concluding matchup of the league’s yearly playoffs that start in the beginning of January.
The Super Bowl features the best team from each of the NFL’s two conferences, the NFC and the AFC, with the winning Super Bowl team receiving the highly coveted Lombardi Trophy while its coaches and players receive an expensive ring and an additional paycheck.
Between all the playoff games and the actual Super Bowl, there are eleven total games played to determine that year’s champion – four Wild Card games, four Divisional Round games, two conference championship games and then finally the actual Super Bowl.
The World Cup is an international soccer competition that takes place every four years between the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which is considered the sport’s governing body.
The qualification phase takes place over the preceding three years when it’s determined which teams will qualify for the tournament phase, which is also known as the World Cup Finals.
Thirty-two teams (including the host nation) are chosen to compete in the tournament phase that takes place over a period of about a month until a winner is finally named, with 21 World Cup Tournaments having taken place since it started in 1930.
The most recent Super Bowl took place on February 2, 2020, in the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The AFC Champions Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFC champions San Francisco 49ers 31-20.
The next Super Bowl will take place this year on February 7 at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The most recent World Cup tournament took place in 2018 in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia.
The team from France beat the Croatian team by a score of 4-2.
The next World Cup Tournament will take place in the year 2022, with the location being in the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail, Qatar.
So far there have been 53 Super Bowls, happening yearly, with the first one being played on January 15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 35-10.
There have been 21 World Cup tournaments held, one every four years, the first one ever being played in 1930 at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, Uruguay, when Uruguay beat Argentina by the final score of 4-2.
The only years where a World Cup tournament did not take place since its inception were in 1942 and 1946 due to World War II.
Soccer fans are convinced that the World Cup receives more viewers, and in a way they are correct.
For instance, the World Cup final that took place in Brazil in 2014 between Germany and Argentina drew more than a billion international viewers, with 695 million of them tuning in for at least 20 consecutive minutes (Germany won that match 1-0, by the way).
Compare that to the most-watched Super Bowl, which took place in 2015 between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, when 114.4 million U.S. viewers and 30-50 million internationally tuned in.
But since the World Cup only takes place once every four years and the Super Bowl happens yearly, those two totals are tough to compare without multiplying the Super Bowl numbers by four, and then suddenly they start to even out somewhat, though the World Cup’s international popularity keeps its numbers slightly higher than the Super Bowl’s.
Again, the World Cup only happens every four years, so it’s tough to compare the two championships directly.
For example, in 2018, total revenue from the World Cup was about $5 billion, about $78.1 million per game, whereas that same year the NFL brought in $14 billion, or roughly $52.2 million per game.
But there were three more Super Bowls than World Cups during those four years, so the amount of money each event made isn’t directly comparable since the NFL does a championship game every single season.
It’s important to note that both leagues have been profitable regardless.
The World Cup winners win in this matchup, but again, it’s a bit difficult to compare the two sports in this way because there are 53 players on an NFL roster and just 23 on a FIFA franchise, so mathematically the soccer players will always win.
When the Germans won the World Cup in 2014, for example, they received a total of $35 million in prize money, and each of their 23 players received $408,000, while the German Football Association kept $25 million of that sum.
When the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017, each of their 53 players received $112,000, and the losing players of the New England Patriots each received half that sum, or $56,000, for playing in the game.
In this category, the Super Bowl is the clear winner.
The cost of a 30-second ad during the last Super Bowl was between $5.1 million and $5.3 million, depending on when it airs during the telecast.
Compare that to the cost of the most expensive ad in the U.S. during the final match of the 2014 World Cup, which was $1.18 million.
Also necessary to consider are the number of ads that take place in each of the two championships – with a lot more ads being run during an NFL game than during a soccer matchup due to the way each sport keeps track of game time.
The World Cup may have a bigger audience, but that may be because it only takes place once every four years and the participants (and thus the audience) are international.
The Super Bowl (and the playoffs that lead up to it) attracts a huge audience yearly, and thanks to recent efforts to play games in Europe and Mexico, its international audience is slowly beginning to grow.
Where soccer may always have an advantage over football is in its ability to be played by just a few people at a time without the need for expensive pads or a giant field, and that’s kept the sport popular within both the rich and poor communities of the world.
The numbers don’t lie, and they tell us that although the Super Bowl generates more money the World Cup has more viewers. Check out our article on NFL vs MLS to learn more about how these sports match up against each other.
Take a look.
|Super Bowl||World Cup|
|Revenue in 2019|
|$14 billion||$5 billion|
|Average Cost of Advertisements|
|$5.1 million and $5.3 million per 30-second ad-spot||$1.18 million (most expensive, however, FIFA runs fewer ads.)|
|98.2 million viewers (fewest in 11 years)||1.12 billion viewers|
|Prize Money (2019)|
|$118,000 (not including endorsements)||$408,000 per player (in 2014)|
|Super Bowl Ring is worth $36,500|
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After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.More info on Richard Janvrin
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