Soccer in cartoons

Soccer, or “football” in most of the world outside of North America, is the world’s most popular sport. The World Cup easily eclipses the Super Bowl and World Series in total global viewership.

That said, soccer’s profile in the US has improved in recent years. Television seems to have found a way to make soccer coverage more profitable, with games airing frequently on weekend TV. (See NBC’s telecasts of England’s Premier League, for instance.) Plenty of children also enjoy playing soccer. Finally, ratings for the World Cup have grown in recent years.

Here’s some examples of soccer in comics and animation.

The Simpsons

The 1997 episode “The Cartridge Family” featured an amusing but dismissive take on soccer in the episode’s opening scenes. The Springfield denizens find the sport too boring, and eventually break out into a riot.

Years later, a 2010s episode featured Homer as a soccer referee, albeit still disliking the game.

The Guardian

In 2014, British newspaper the Guardian placed on its YouTube channel a series of Lego-like stop-motion animated shorts, mostly centering around that year’s World Cup. While the shorts aren’t exactly “The Lego Movie,” they’re still cute to watch.

A typical short can be seen here. Look early on for Mr. Burns of “The Simpsons” putting in a crowd appearance.

Mickey Mouse

Disney produced a World Cup-themed short about Mickey trying to watch a major soccer game. As the title indicates, the entire short’s done in Portuguese.  The title, “O Futebol Classico,” is Portuguese for “The Classic Football.”

Note the game’s announcer is Disney’s Brazilian character Jose Carioca, the parrot from the Donald Duck classics “Saludos Amigos” and “The Three Caballeros.”

Alyssa Naeher: “Five Goals and a Baby”

Alyssa Naeher was one of the players for the US team during the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.  An animated video (available here) was made in 2016 about the birth of Naeher’s twin sister’s first child, which fell during the World Cup championship game. The title references the team’s 5-2 win over Japan.

“Supa Strikas”

I’d never heard of this one until doing research for this post. From what I can find, “Supa Strikas” is a South African-produced animated series (based on a comic). The animated series focuses on the titular team’s efforts to beat various other teams and eventually win a championship trophy. The team consists of a group of players from around the world (most of them people of color).

“Supa Strikas” has apparently aired in most of the world except here in the US (for some reason), mostly on either local networks/channels or on the international versions of Disney XD. That said, the series is also available on the producers’ own YouTube channel.

Here’s the opening credits.

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