Nearly half of the people in the world are interested in football and one fifth of them actually participate in the sport. The countries with the highest levels of interest and participation in football are in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and include those with very large populations.
High Interest in Africa
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, is the number one most engaged football market globally. An incredible 83% of people are interested in football and even more remarkable is the Nigerian participation rate of 65%, way ahead of any other nation. Indonesia, the world’s fourth biggest country in terms of population, is second in interest with 77% of people following football, ahead of Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Ranking number two in terms of public participation levels in football is Egypt, the largest Arabic-speaking nation, with 50% of people taking part in the sport. South Africa and Thailand make up the top four. Two other emerging markets, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, rank among the top 10 in both interest or participation.
Spain is the number one in Europe when it comes to interest
China and India, the world’s two most populated countries, show very similar levels of interest at about 30%. However, India has a far higher level of participation at 22%, ranking ahead of perennial World Cup powers such as Germany, Spain and The Netherlands. Spain is the top European market in terms of interest, ranking 10th in the world. The UK is highest ranking European nation in terms of participation and in seventh place globally, while Ireland is the next highest European nation in 12th place. Both these markets alongside Italy are the only European countries with participation levels of 25% or higher.