Around the world, more people watch and play soccer than any other sport. In the United States, soccer has steadily gained fans and players over the past few decades; it’s now the third-largest participatory sport in the nation, and its popularity among people under 35 years old is surpassed only by American football.
Today, Volkswagen of America announced it was taking a major step to bolster soccer in America by becoming the presenting sponsor of U.S. Soccer for the next four years – supporting the U.S. men’s, women’s and all youth national teams as they train and compete on the world stage.
“If you’ve driven by a community park in the last three decades, you know that soccer is a sport that’s become a big part of American life,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Just as Volkswagen is the People’s Car, soccer is the people’s sport, and it’s a natural fit for us.”
For the first stage of the partnership, Volkswagen’s sponsorship will aim to get more women coaches into the game at all levels. While 47 percent of youth soccer players are women, only 15 percent of coaches are female. Beyond those programs, Volkswagen will also work with U.S. Soccer on raising the game’s visibility, player and coach development, and promoting greater fan engagement across the country.
This partnership launches ahead of the U.S. Women’s National Team quest to win its second straight world title at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer. As the top-ranked women’s team in the world for the fourth consecutive year, Team USA finished 2018 with an unbeaten record of 18-0-2. Volkswagen will be a part of U.S. Soccer’s Countdown to the Cup from January to May, which includes Team USA playing a total of 10 games before departing for France in pursuit of another World Cup title.
The U.S. Men’s National Team, now under the leadership of Gregg Berhalter, who was named coach in December, has a four-year journey ahead to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As Berhalter prepares for the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, Volkswagen will work with U.S. Soccer in providing fans with fun and engaging opportunities to connect with the new-look team.
“We are extremely excited to work together with Volkswagen to help us continue to grow soccer in the United States,” said U.S. Soccer CEO and Secretary General Dan Flynn. “Volkswagen will be one of the most active and visible partners U.S. Soccer has ever had, providing us with additional resources for more programs that can impact and help develop the sport, while also allowing us to reach more fans of the game across the country. We look forward to the next four years as together we drive towards our mission of becoming the preeminent sport in the United States.”