How Snoop Dogg learned to love soccer

In New York on Monday, Snoop Dogg promoted the launch of "FIFA Soccer 13." Dipasupil/Getty Images

NEW YORK -- For most of his life, Snoop Dogg (aka Snoop Lion) didn’t know a thing about soccer. Didn’t play it. Didn’t know any teams or players. Didn’t think about it.

Then about a decade ago, while touring in Europe, his PlayStation 2 "Madden" disc got scratched and stopped working.

When his handlers went to the closest store to buy another copy, "Madden" wasn’t available -- the American football game wasn't widely sold in Europe at the time. So Snoop's boys grabbed "FIFA" off the video game rack to tide them over until they could find a copy of "Madden."

But Snoop didn't end up needing it on that trip.

"We ended up falling in love with it," Snoop said before playing "FIFA Soccer 13" Monday at the launch party at SPiN New York. "While we were playing the game, we were also learning about the game and started watching some games on TV. And it was the biggest sport in the part of the world we were in, so I just loved it."

Snoop loved it so much that he’s now an official spokesman for the franchise, joining New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz and New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill as "FIFA 13" ambassadors. Snoop posed for pictures, signed autographs and spent an hour playing the game on an HD screen as dozens of people watched. Today he was in Bristol, Conn., to appear on a bevy of ESPN shows.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are Snoop’s favorite players, but he still has a special place for Ronaldo of Brazil, who was the world’s best player when Snoop began to discover soccer.

And although basketball is generally the sport synonymous with hip-hop music, Snoop believes soccer will continue to grow, especially as people give it a chance.

"I think it can be real big because soccer is a fun sport," he said. "It takes an athletic person to play it, and it’s just fly. I think it can catch on."