As the most popular game in the world, football fans have also established a culture of support for their players, coaches, clubs, and other parts of the football machinery.
In the past, the part of the club’s fanbase that attended its games on weekly tickets bought out of a significant chunk of the household budget was the primary target audience for the game. With the revolution that satellite television has brought to professional sports, now these clubs have a way to extend their reach into other avenues and markets, resulting in popularisation the game in previously dormant footballing regions like interior countries of Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
The following parameters have been used to determine the best fanbases for this article:
- Stadium atmosphere
- Travelling support
- Treatment of legends and current players;
#10 Bayern Munich
As the preeminent German club, in both European football and domestically in both recent and far-flung timeframes, Bayern Munich, while initially not the most favoured team of Germany, has slowly risen to a high standing with most citizens of their country.
The club’s undeniable class on the pitch has kept its homegrown support loyal, intact and growing at a favourable rate. At the same time, their marketing team enables them to engage with millions of fans from hitherto unexploited markets such as India, the Far East, Arabia, Africa and Australia.
The Allianz Arena reports an average attendance of 71,000 fans, which ranks as the fourth-highest in volume in Europe and the second-best in Germany (behind Borussia Dortmund). This figure is nearly 90% of a full standing capacity of 80,000 (which also accounts for standing, which is allowed in the Bundesliga).
#9 River Plate & Boca Juniors
Although these clubs are not very widely known outside the South American footballing scene, the ultras who support both clubs have made them notoriously famous for their exploits, activism and maniacal support from their fanbases. The Buenos Aires derby is among the most violent sporting rivalries in all of sport, and has a history of violence from both sides.
With the reach of the Internet tapping into new markets, both clubs are slowly establishing an international fanbase. Their supporters flock to jam-packed stadiums for all of their home games, and make life difficult for any visiting team, which has to face some of the most passionate support bases anywhere on the planet.
Estadio Monumental, which has been River Plate’s home stadium for the past 78 years now, has averaged footfall figures close to 70,000 for its showcase games. Boca’s smaller but acoustically better designed La Bombonera stadium has average attendances of nearly 50,000 for league games.
#8 Lech Poznan
For Premier League viewers, this club’s biggest claim to fame is the role of its fanbase as the originators of Manchester City’s now-famous crowd celebration – ‘the Poznan’ – done whenever the supported team scores a goal. Regarded as the most successful club in Poland’s history, they regularly play in front of crowds more than 40,000.
Although glory in Europe has been incredibly hard to come by for the comparatively weaker side in one of the continent’s weaker leagues, Poznan supporters have, for long, had their standing as real fanatics for their club.
Over half of the country’s population from its older generation still supports the club, and recent advances in social media engagement have given them greater attention as one of football fandom’s biggest nerve centres. The club has several passionate YouTubers who propagate the club’s presence to a big audience online.
Having previously had the privilege to play host to Argentinian legend Diego Maradona’s greatest exploits at club level, the club is renowned for having one of the highest average attendances in Europe.
The Stadio San Paolo has regularly filled its 60,000 capacity stadium with passionate support, and their Champions League involvement over the last five years has given them an international reputation and a base to project itself to a greater number of football followers.
Napoli have Italy’s most passionate fans, who have resorted to a variety of methods to establish the level of their passion for the club. Gonzalo Higuain’s much-maligned transfer to Juventus has surely left them sore in this transfer window, but they have contemporary idols like Insigne and Marek Hamsik to look out for.
#6 Roma & Lazio
The Olympiastadion plays host to both these Italian clubs, and is a fitting arena to document some of the best spectacles in football that happens here every week. Italian supporters have, for long, set the standard for supporters from continental clubs, and the fanbases of Rome-based Roma and Lazio are the best-known fanbases from this country.
Backed by the infamous CUCS (Commando Ultra Curva Sud), Roma’s fans are considered some of the most historic in European football. The club’s rivalry with Lazio prompts one of the most fierce derbies in the world, due in no small part to both sets of fans patriotism from the terraces.
Lazio’s ultras are no less passionate, and the storied history of these two clubs’ rivalries makes for fascinating reading to a football nerd wishing to read deep into the cultural history of this sporting rivalry.