When “The Simpsons’’ made its debut on Fox, the United States did not have a major professional soccer league, and if it did, Homer and his friends surely would not have been inclined to follow it.
Now, to mark the 25th season of the show, it will be the focus of a merchandise line tied to the sport and to assorted clubs around the world. There also will be a themed episode of the program in March, in advance of the World Cup.
(ESPN will carry the 2014 World Cup; Fox will take over for 2018 and ’22.).
The episode, entitled “You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee,’’ features Homer applying to become a World Cup referee, eventually taking the family to Brazil, site of next year’s tournament.