Bet on more soccer gambling
• The first weekend of March Madness might be the high point for both all-day television viewing and sports gambling in America. TV remotes get a workout while brackets get busted, and it seems like just about everyone — basketball fan or no — throws a couple of bucks into the office pool for the tournament.
This is a reminder of how well-positioned soccer is when it comes to both of these facets of sports fandom in the United States. For the dedicated soccer fan, every weekend is March Madness. Those who put in the time to follow multiple leagues can easily fill up every hour of every weekend of the year with televised soccer.
On the gambling front, soccer seems well-positioned, too. The three possible outcomes of each match make it easy to bet without resorting to complicated gambling terms like the “money line.” The sport is already so gambling-saturated that betting companies regularly appear as jersey sponsors throughout European leagues, where in-stadium betting shops are regular sights.
After the Supreme Court ruled last May that all states were allowed to legalize sports betting, there has been a rush to implement it across the country. Soccer madness has already taken over the TV airwaves. Soon, gambling will promote it even further.
• It has been a big week for women’s soccer in Europe after more than 60,000 fans attended Atletico Madrid’s game against Barcelona, setting the record for the largest European women’s soccer crowd. This weekend, the Juventus women host Fiorentina in the first women’s game held at Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, with an expected crowd of 20,000-plus. The women’s game got a late start in southern Europe. But the interest is clearly there, and fans are starting to show up.
• As part of the Allianz Field opening in mid-April, Minnesota United is bringing the hosts of the popular “Men in Blazers” podcast/TV show to the Ordway Theater. Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, both Englishmen who moved to the United States, have arguably done as much as anyone to spread soccer interest in this country — an impressive achievement, given that U.S. soccer fans tend toward the evangelistic, anyway. The event is April 12, and should be an entertaining kickoff to a big weekend.
Euro 2020 qualifying: Norway at Spain, 2:45 p.m. Saturday, ESPN News. Not so long ago, Spain was the king of Europe, winning two European Championships and a World Cup between 2008 and 2012. Since that golden era ended, it’s been a struggle; Spain hasn’t so much as reached a quarterfinal of a major tournament. Norway isn’t a giant of European soccer, but it’s no pushover and is hoping to reach the Euros for the first time in 20 years.