NEW YORK (MainStreet) - Every four years, soccer fans get their version of the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl, with the FIFA World Cup, soccers biggest tournament. The international tournament is hosted by Brazil this year and starts on Thursday, June 12. Thirty-two teams will try to make it through the month-long event.
Sport-centric brands like Nike adidas and Puma have come up with loads of gear to get fans motivated, and with the World Cup just days away from kicking off, fans are stocking up. Sales of merchandise with U.S.A. soccer fan favorite, Clint Dempsey, has spiked over 300% over the past week to make him the top-selling soccer player on Fanatics.com, an online retailer of officially licensed team merchandise that is selling merchandise selection from all 32 teams in the World Cup, the site says. Other popular player merchandise includes Brazil's Neymar, U.S.A's Michael Bradley, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina's Lionel Messi, yet customers from more than 30 countries have made World Cup gear purchases on its Web site over the past week, Fanatics.com adds.
Over the past week, the top five teams with the best-selling merchandise are: USA, Brazil, Italy, Portugal and England, the site says.
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Soccer is only now starting to hit its stride in the U.S., yet it is one of the largest sporting events around the world. Giving the overall population changes occurring in the U.S., with greater minorities from soccer-loving countries, as well as better exposure of soccer in the U.S. that makes it more accessible to viewers, it's a growing sport that provides significant opportunity for U.S. specialty retailers, says Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation.
This year, the tournament is getting a high-tech upgrade. FIFA on Friday launched a new version of its app for Apple iPhone and the iPad that includes latest World Cup news, information on players and coaches and details surrounding its host country, Brazil, including stadiums and cities where the matches will be played. Once the tournament begins, FIFA plans to update the app again to allow users to follow "minute-by-minute" action from all 64 games, a daily Live Blog of the coverage and vote for Man of the Match. Earlier in the week Google Chromecast announced that it had added WatchESPN to its list of apps available on the streaming service, which will allow users to watch matches on their mobile device or by casting to their HDTV.
Whether you're watching the games at a bar, a friend's house or at home, TheStreet worked with Fanatics.com to highlight World Cup gear all fans should sport before they play their caxirolas, Brazil's answer to the South African vuvuzela.