This article reviews the impact of the 1994 World Cup (Soccer) Finals upon contemporary US sports culture. The authors draw upon historical and sociological scholarship on North American sports culture, participant observation data generated by them during the World Cup itself, and empirical sources on the context and impact of the World Cup’s development and implementation. These sources are used within an analytical framework derived from critical and investigative sociological traditions. The article situates the case study within debates concerning the USA’s sports space and the nature of globalizing processes within contemporary sport. It is concluded that though the World Cup was notably successful as spectacle and event (as predicted by a number of commentators), and as the accomplishment of interlocking networks of sports administrative elites, its impact upon established US sports culture and space has been minimal.
John Sugden and Alan Tomlinson are in the Sport and Leisure Cultures research group in the Chelsea School Research Centre at the University of Brighton, United Kingdom.
This article is a part of a larger project by the authors, which is scheduled for publication in 1998 as Sport in the Global Village: FIFA and the Development of World Soccer (Polity Press).