10 Countries With The Most Football Fans

10 Countries With The Most Football Fans

Football (or soccer as it’s known in some countries) is hands down the most popular sport in the world. An estimated 4 billion football fans globally tune in to watch matches regularly. With such a massive global following, football fandom varies widely between countries.

Some nations seem to bleed football. Citizens eat, sleep, and breathe the beautiful game. Other countries have steadily grown their football interest and fanbase over the decades.

Let’s take a look at the 10 countries with the largest number of football fans worldwide:

1. Brazil – 212 million football fans

Brazil tops our list with an estimated 212 million football fans. This South American country lives and breathes football as its most popular sport.

Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup five times, the most World Cup victories of any nation. The country is football-obsessed, with children playing pickup games on the beaches and favela streets.

Brazil is home to iconic football stadiums like the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. Top clubs like Flamengo and Corinthians from São Paulo and Rio have huge domestic fan followings.

International superstar Neymar Jr. leads the new generation of Brazilian football heroes. Historic greats like Pelé, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Kaká have cemented Brazil’s reputation as the spiritual home of jogo bonito, or “the beautiful game.”

2. England – 86 million football fans

England comes in second place with over 86 million football fans. As the birthplace of modern football in the 19th century, England has a deeply rooted football culture.

The English Premier League is the most-watched football league globally. Historic clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea have fans across Britain and worldwide.

England played the first-ever international fixture against Scotland in 1872. The England national team won its only World Cup victory at home in 1966. Stars like David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, and Harry Kane enjoy nationwide fame.

While football mania swept Britain long ago, English fans remain passionately devoted. Public grounds overflow with supporters on match days. Pubs are packed for games across the leagues.

3. India – 335 million football fans

India may surprise some with over 335 million football fans. Cricket has long dominated Indian sports. But football has exploded in popularity over the last decade.

Youth participation in football has skyrocketed. Premier League and La Liga viewership has broken records thanks to television broadcasting. Top European clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid have established official fan clubs and millions of followers.

The Indian Super League launched in 2013 to further promote football fandom. Bollywood celebrities and cricket icons co-own franchises alongside foreign clubs. The league continues to break attendance records, pointing to India’s massive football potential.

Backed by over 1.3 billion people, India could become football’s next marketing goldmine. Brands already jostle for endorsement deals with rising young stars like Sunil Chhetri.

4. USA – 85 million Football fans

American football traditionally ruled the US sports market. But soccer has made major inroads, with an estimated 85 million fans today.

In the 1970s, Pelé and other international superstars played exhibition matches across America. This helped spark public interest in football.

The 1994 FIFA World Cup held in the US was a turning point. World football stars finally played competitive matches on American soil.

In 1993, the US began its own professional league called Major League Soccer. Interest and attendance grew steadily, along with the quality of play. Today, MLS features international stars like Zlatan Ibrahimović alongside homegrown talent.

The US women’s national team has achieved major success, winning four World Cups and four Olympic golds. Players like Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, and Alex Morgan became household names.

With immigration rising, America’s Latino population helped push soccer into the mainstream. Young Americans flock to support European clubs, while also rallying behind Team USA.

5. Indonesia – 273 million avid football fans

Indonesia rounds out our top five with over 273 million avid football fans. As the fourth most populous country, Indonesia’s sheer size gives it a huge base of potential supporters.

Football arrived in the Dutch East Indies through colonialism in the late 1800s. Today it’s the number one sport, with passionate multi-generational followers.

The national team, nicknamed the Garuda, has qualified for the FIFA World Cup just once in 1938. But it always receives feverish support.

Indonesia has its own 18-team Liga 1 as the top professional league. Clubs like Persija Jakarta, Persib Bandung, Arema FC, and Bali United draw big crowds.

Young skilled Indonesians dream of playing overseas. Stars like Shinji Kagawa and Stefano Lilipaly compete abroad, inspiring the next generation.

6. Mexico – 128 million dedicated fans

Football is far and away Mexico’s favorite sport with over 128 million dedicated fans. It’s not just a game but a core part of Mexican culture and national identity.

Mexico has hosted two World Cups to date, in 1970 and 1986. The national team has reached the knockout stage in every World Cup since 1994.

The Mexican league system goes down to the third division with over 100 pro clubs. Teams like Club América, C.D. Guadalajara, and UNAM generate massive domestic buzz.

Internationally, Mexican stars like Javier Hernández “Chicharito” and Carlos Vela join top European leagues. They become icons back home by representing Mexico on the global stage.

7. Germany – 83 million Football fans

Germany boasts one of the strongest football traditions with over 83 million fans. The German Bundesliga claims the highest average league attendance globally. Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are two of the biggest clubs worldwide.

The German national team has won four FIFA World Cups, behind only Brazil. Germany has also won three European Championships.

German football culture includes passionate yet fair fans across economic classes. Standing sections allow hyper-engaged supporters to cheer on match days.

Top German players become household names as local heroes and global superstars. Legends like Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthäus, and Miroslav Klose inspire new generations.

8. Argentina – 60 million football lovers

Argentina is home to over 60 million football lovers. As a football-crazed nation, kids start learning the sport in streets and parks from a very young age.

The Argentine Primera División has birthed phenomenal players over decades. Argentine greats include Diego Maradona, Mario Kempes, Gabriel Batistuta, and Lionel Messi.

The national team has appeared in five World Cup finals, winning in 1978 and 1986 behind Maradona. Argentina has also won 15 Copa América titles.

Argentina’s clubs have a massive continental presence too. Boca Juniors and River Plate are two of South America’s biggest and most successful clubs.

9. Spain – 60 million football fans

Spain has cultivated over 60 million football fans, thanks largely to La Liga. Its top-flight league features legendary clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona that boast even bigger worldwide fanbases.

While domestic league attendance declined, Spanish clubs have become marketing juggernauts abroad. According to La Liga, Real Madrid has over 250 million fans globally with Barcelona boasting 200 million.

The Spanish national team is also experiencing a golden era. Spain won three successive major tournaments between 2008-2012: Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup, and Euro 2012.

Top stars like Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Fernando Torres, and David Villa propelled Spain to the top. The team plays beautiful tiki-taka possession football that purists love.

10. France – 67 million football fans

Rounding off our top 10 is France with just over 67 million football fans. France hosted and won its first FIFA World Cup in 1998.

The star-studded team was led by Zinedine Zidane, arguably France’s greatest player ever. Other French legends include Michel Platini, Raymond Kopa, and Just Fontaine.

Ligue 1 has some heavyweight clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille with national and global appeal. PSG’s Qatari owners brought footballing icons like David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimović to France.

A new golden generation is emerging under manager Didier Deschamps. Young stars like Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, and Paul Pogba took Les Bleus to World Cup glory in 2018.

Conclusion

Football fandom comes in many flavors across continents. Some nations like Brazil and Argentina seem steeped in football history and culture. Others like India and the US have steadily cultivated bigger fanbases.

Leagues, clubs, and players drive much of football’s worldwide appeal today. But wearing national team colors ignites special passion among global fans.

While styles and loyalties vary, football devotees everywhere share their love for the beautiful game. That collective passion makes football truly the world’s sport.

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