Since the rise of arcade games in the 70s, sports have been an exciting genre of the movement that swept the world. Pretty soon, people were playing arcade games everywhere, even though the graphics, although advanced for their time, wouldn't be considered remotely close to the standard of today's game. That's probably why soccer and football arcade games were so popular during the growth of arcade popularity. The graphics were much more suited for a sport like soccer (or, if you're European, football) since the ball is easy to follow and the players seem to move up the field as a unit.
Soccer was also a popular choice because, well, soccer is