If you travel outside the U.S., the usual popularity of the World Cup is more like World Cup Mania, it is so entrenched as an event throughout the world. Football is the one sport that unites the world across national boundaries, and is huge in the Muslim world. The World Cup is the real Olympics of sport.
It’s why Qatar bribed everyone they could find to land hosting duties, but as a country in its own bubble, they did not foresee the downside of opening up their repressive and backwards but cash-rich country to a world completely alien to the way it operates.
If it had been a “fair” competition, the U.S. would have won hosting duties. It did come in second. If World Cup had been in the U.S. this go round, the ratings here would have been astronomical, not “improved”. I am all for Muslim nations sharing hosting duties, but this particular World Cup is an object lesson as to what not to do.