In the U.S., American football reigns supreme. But for the rest of the world, soccer is the most popular sport.

And for local immigrants, watching soccer is a way to not only stay connected to home, but unite as members of their respective diaspora.

That's the case for the African Cup of Nations, or AFCON, a major African soccer tournament kicking off Saturday.

The tournament, in which 24 African teams face off every two years, is being hosted in Cote d'Ivoire this year, with the final game scheduled for Feb. 11.

“It happens as something that brings a different diaspora that live here, for instance, in Massachusetts, where we have more than a 100,000 foreign-born Mass. residents who are from Africa,” said Mohamed Barrie, a freelance journalist and head of the local youth journalism program Teens in Print. He’s also a big AFCON fan, though his team, Sierra Leone, didn’t qualify this year.

He spoke with fan Terrence Sarkodieh, who is from Ghana, and expressed how AFCON is a moment to showcase the brilliance and the talent of the continent.

“You see the Ghanaian people cheering the Ghanaians people. You see the Nigerian people cheering the Nigerian people,” Sarkodieh told Barrie. “We're not just an African continent. We are a continent of togetherness.”

It’s also a moment to reconnect with friends and family back home.

“I would love to be back home during that period of time. Unfortunately, we came here to seek for greener pastures, but that doesn't stop us from watching the game,” Sarkodieh said.

Things can get spirited, Barrie said, with WhatsApp group chats forming and fans checking their phones for the latest updates.

At stake for U.S.-based fans are “diaspora bragging rights,” Barrie said, “and being able to call yourself or your country the best.”

For players, the tournament can act as a catalyst for their careers.

“Performing well at the AFCON can earn you a big summer move, but then also qualifying and getting far in this tournament means earning more money,” he said.

This year, the Confederation of African Football increased prize money for the winning team to $7 million U.S. dollars. Teams that reach the semifinals will receive $2.5 million, and teams that get to the quarterfinals will get $1.3 million.

It’s about a 40 percent increase in prize money from the last AFCON, tournament administrators said.

“[It’s] money that a lot of these national federations and players can use,” Barrie said.

Another highlight is the fashion, he said.

“Brands like Puma, Adidas, really see the AFCON as a testing ground, a creative space for their designers to gift us with fire fits, I might say,” he said. “The team release for jerseys is something a lot of fans look out to, and Nigeria honestly being the most sought-after jersey.”

People in Massachusetts who want to get in on the action can seek out a local African restaurant or sports bar. Barrie recommended Obosa Restaurant in Roslindale, Phoenix Landing in Cambridge or Anokye Krom in Worcester.

“Or just ask your African friends if they are hosting something,” he said.