Which country is most-interested in football?
A report titled: World Football Report 2018, published by Neilsen Sports, has ranked the countries based on the percentage of the population that is interested in football. The Report is a study done on various aspects of the football market post the 2018 World Cup and claims that following of the sport in countries not traditionally associated with football is on the rise.
The Report goes on to claim that:
"Ranking the markets with the highest percentage of their population interested in football illustrates just how successful the sport has been in penetrating diverse cultures around the world. The table below ranks a list of 20 major markets by this measure. It contains 4Asian countries, 11 European, 3 Latin American, 1 Middle Eastern and 1 African, all of which have more than 49% of their population interested in the sport.
Football has made a big impact on the small population of the United Arab Emirates. The sport is strong right across the Middle East and has been a major focus within the U.A.E. due to some significant investments by local governments and companies. The U.A.E.-based airlines Emirates and Etihad are major sponsors of European club football, and Sheikh Mansour, a prominent member of the royal family and government of Abu Dhabi, owns City Football Group, the portfolio of global football clubs that includes Manchester City."
The report further claims:
"U.A.E.’s 80% interest in football translates into only about 3.2 million people. At the other end of the scale in terms of population size, Thailand, second place in terms of penetration at 78%, has about 40 million interested in football, and Brazil has 75 million (60%). Spain, Turkey, and Portugal are the highest-ranked European nations on the list.
Interest in Spain and Portugal has likely been boosted by the recent strength of their national teams and the popularity of star players such as Cristiano Ronaldo. The U.K. and France, despite being two of football’s European heartlands, manage only 17th and 18th, respectively."
"Although neither China nor India features in the chart, their enormous populations mean they have large numbers of football fans. Even taking a conservative count of urban populations only, China has 187 million “interested” or “very interested” in the sport and India 125 million. This gives China more football fans than the 131 million in Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and Spain combined, with India not far behind.
Including Russia 2018, 11 of the countries on the list have hosted a World Cup. A further six have hosted, have part-hosted or will soon host a major continental tournament (Copa America, Asian Cup or Euro). Only the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Turkey haven’t hosted either, although Turkey plans to bid for Euro 2024 and Hungary will host some matches at Euro 2020."