Countries you didn’t know were soccer crazy

In these Soccer Nations, fans live and breathe the sport.

1 / 9

Argentinian Lionel Messi, considered one of the world's best soccer players, is making his second trip to Israel. Argentinian Lionel Messi, considered one of the world's best soccer players, is making his second trip to Israel. (Photo: JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)

1 / 9

Countries that love soccer

Whatever you call it – soccer, football, futbol – it's considered "The Beautiful Game" wherever it's played. And as the most popular sport in the world, that happens to be pretty much everywhere.

There are places where the game carries a special mystique: think Brazil, Argentina, England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France ... really, the list could go on and on. These countries come to a standstill during World Cup games, have first-rate domestic leagues, and produce some of the best players in the world year after year.

But there are other countries where the sport is pretty popular as well. Here are 8 surprising places that sport a large population of soccer devotees.

Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows