Global: Just how popular is football?
June 10th, 2022, YouGov

Global: Just how popular is football?

It is no secret that football is the most followed sport across the world, but YouGov Global Profiles equips us with the ability to look at where a sport is the most popular and by what degree.

This data can give marketers an overview of their potential reach when they take up or consider taking up football sponsorships.

South Africa (online sample), which hosted the 2010 FIFA Men’s World Cup and has a vibrant sporting culture, tops the list. Four in nine consumers in the rainbow nation say they actively watch or follow the sport (44%). Portugal takes the second spot, with two in five consumers indicating they follow the game (38%).


Rates are very high in Poland (36%), Indonesia (online sample, 36%), Greece (35%), Switzerland (34%), Belgium (34%), Colombia (32%), Ireland (32%), Egypt (online sample, 32%) and Spain (32%), in each of which at least a third of consumers indicate they either actively read about the sport or watch on television or online. This set of evidently football-crazy markets – diverse both geographically and culturally – is a testament to the transcendent appeal of ‘the beautiful game’.

While football is the world’s biggest sport, there remains opportunity for growth and FIFA recognises this. They have made attempts to grow the game in huge markets like the US, India, and China. Are those efforts paying off?

Global Profiles data suggests that the sport has taken a substantial hold among urban Indians and among consumers in China. In both of the giant Asian markets, a fifth of consumers say they watch or follow football on a regular basis (India 22%, China 19%).

The game’s market presence in the US remains slightly more muted. In fact, the US comes in last on our table representing all 40 markets that Global Profiles covers. Even so, about one in 10 Americans follow the sport (10%).

For brands looking to reach a truly global audience, aligning with top football properties continues to look a great bet.

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Global Profiles Methodology: YouGov Global Profiles is a globally consistent audience dataset with 1000+ questions across 43 markets. The data is based on continuously collected data from adults aged 16+ in China and 18 and over in other markets. The sample sizes for YouGov Global Profiles will fluctuate over time, however the minimum sample size is always c.1000. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from India and UAE, which use urban representative samples, and China, Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, which use online representative samples. Learn more about Global Profiles.