Where Soccer is Most Popular
There’s no doubt that soccer is a global sport. The most popular one at that! From Europe to Asia, Africa to the Americas, soccer has captured the hearts and minds of people everywhere.
But where is soccer most popular? Which countries have the largest number of fans and players, and why is the sport so beloved in these places?
The FIFA World Cup, held every four years, is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, with tons of loyal and casual fans tuning in to watch their country compete.
While there is an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide, some countries have a particular passion for the sport.
In this article, we’ll explore where soccer is most popular, and why these countries ❤️️ the beautiful game so much.
Global Popularity of Soccer
Soccer, also known as football in many parts of the world, is the most popular sport in the world.
According to a Nielsen survey that spanned 18 global markets, more than four out of 10 people consider themselves soccer fans, making the game the world’s most popular sport.
Soccer’s popularity is not limited to just a few countries. It is played and watched in almost every corner of the world.
The popularity of soccer continues to rise in many countries, including the United States, India, and China.
While interest in the sport of soccer is lower in the U.S. than in many other countries, it still stands at a top three sport.
Soccer in Europe
Europe is the most prominent soccer market in the world in terms of revenue and overall level of competition. Here is a breakdown of the more popularized countries.
The United Kingdom is home to some of the world’s most famous soccer clubs, including Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea.
The English Premier League (EPL) is one of the most-watched professional sporting leagues in the world, with an estimated global audience of 3.2 billion people.
In 2021/2022, the EPL generated a revenue north of $6.96 billion.
Spain is another European country with a strong soccer tradition.
The Spanish La Liga is home to two of the world’s most famous clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The league is known for its technical and tactical style of play, which is often attributed to the influence of Spanish soccer legend, Johan Cruyff and, more recently, Lionel Messi.
In 2021/2022, the league generated a revenue of around $4.5 billion.
Germany is home to the Bundesliga, which is one of the most competitive soccer leagues in the world. The league is known for its high-scoring games and passionate fans.
The Bundesliga is also known for its youth development programs, which have produced some of the world’s best soccer players, including Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich.
In the 2021/2022 season, Bundesliga generated a revenue of approximately $4.5 billion.
Italy is home to Serie A, which is one of the oldest soccer leagues in the world. The league is known for its tactical and defensive style of play, which has produced some of the world’s best defenders, including Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini.
The league is also known for its passionate fanbase, who are known for their colorful displays of support for their favorite teams.
In the 2022/2022 season, Serie A league generated about $2.7 billion in revenue.
Soccer in South America
South America is home to some of the most passionate soccer fans in the world, and the sport is deeply ingrained in the culture of many countries in the region. Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are three countries in South America where soccer is especially popular.
Brazil is widely regarded as the spiritual home of soccer, and the country has produced some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, including Pelé, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho.
The Brazilian national team has won the FIFA World Cup a record five times, and the country’s domestic league, the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, is one of the most competitive and popular leagues in the world.
Argentina is another soccer-mad country in South America, and the national team has produced some of the most iconic players in the history of the sport, including Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.
The country’s domestic league, the Primera División, is also highly competitive and attracts some of the best players from around the world.
Uruguay is a small country in South America, but it has a rich soccer history and is home to one of the most successful national teams in the world.
The Uruguayan national team has won the FIFA World Cup twice, and the country’s domestic league, the Primera División, is also highly competitive.
Soccer in North America
Soccer in North America is not as popular or well-followed as the UK or South America but it is growing fast!
With Messi joining the MLS in 2023 coupled with the upcoming FIFA World Cup hosted by North America, soccer is poised to explode.
Soccer has been gaining popularity in the United States in recent years. The U.S. Soccer governs most levels of soccer in the country, including the national teams, professional leagues, and amateur leagues, being the highest soccer authority in the country.
The MLS is the top professional soccer league in the United States, with 29 teams. The league has been growing in popularity and competitiveness in recent years, attracting star players from around the world
The United States men’s national soccer team has also been improving in recent years. They just won the CONCACAF National League Final. This is exciting leading up to the 2026 World Cup.
As for the United States women’s national soccer team, they continue to dominate the international scene and look to bring another gold at this year’s World Cup.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Mexico, with a strong tradition and culture surrounding the game.
The Liga MX is the top professional soccer league in Mexico, with 18 teams. The more popular teams in the league include Club America, Chivas de Guadalajara, Cruz Azul, Pumas UNAM, and Tigres UANL.
The Mexico men’s national soccer team is also one of the strongest in the CONCACAF region, with two Olympic gold medals and two FIFA Confederations Cup titles to their name.
Soccer in Africa
Introduced more than 100 years ago by the British, Belgian, French, and Portuguese colonialists, soccer has become an integral part of African culture.
While rugby and cricket are also popular in South Africa, soccer remains the most beloved sport on the continent.
Nigeria is a powerhouse in African soccer, having won the African Cup of Nations three times and qualified for the FIFA World Cup six times.
The country has produced many notable soccer players, including Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha, and John Obi Mikel.
The Nigerian Professional Football League is the highest level of domestic soccer in the country.
Egypt has a long and successful history in African soccer, having won the African Cup of Nations seven times.
The country’s national team, nicknamed the Pharaohs, has also qualified for the FIFA World Cup three times.
Egypt’s most famous soccer player is Mohamed Salah, who currently plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League.
South Africa is the only African country to have hosted the FIFA World Cup, which it did in 2010.
The country has a rich soccer history, with the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates being two of the most popular and successful clubs in the country. South Africa’s national team is nicknamed Bafana Bafana, which means “The Boys” in Zulu.
Soccer in Asia
Asia is a continent with a rich soccer culture. The sport has been growing in popularity in recent years, with countries like Japan and South Korea leading the way.
Japan’s J1 League is one of the most popular and prominent soccer leagues internationally. The league has been gaining popularity since the 1990s and has produced many talented players.
The national women’s soccer team has also shown its dominance, beating the USA women’s national team in the 2011 World Cup Final in penalty shoot-outs.
In addition to the J1 League, Japan has a strong amateur soccer culture. The country has over 1.5 million registered players, making it one of the largest soccer-playing nations in the world.
The Japanese soccer culture is known for its discipline, hard work, and technical ability. And, this translates to the soccer field from the youth to the professional levels.
The K-League is the top professional soccer league in the country and has been in operation since 1983. The league has produced many talented players and has gained popularity in recent years.
In addition to the K-League, South Korea has a strong national team. The team has qualified for every World Cup since 1986 and has reached the semi-finals once, in 2002, when the tournament was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
South Korea also has a strong amateur soccer culture, with over 3 million registered players. The country’s soccer culture is known for its speed, agility, and teamwork.
When it comes to determining the popularity of soccer, there are several metrics to consider. This section will explore three of the most common metrics used to measure soccer’s popularity: television ratings, social media engagement, and stadium attendance.
Television ratings are a common way to measure the popularity of sports.
In the United States, soccer has been gaining ground in terms of television ratings. According to a CNN article from December 2022, nearly as many Americans now call soccer their favorite sport to watch as they do basketball or baseball. This suggests that soccer is becoming a more popular sport in the United States.
On a global scale, soccer dominates television ratings. The FIFA World Cup, for example, is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world. The 2022 World Cup final achieved a global reach of close to 1.5 billion viewers!
Social Media Engagement for Soccer
Social media engagement is another metric used to measure the popularity of sports.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports on social media, with millions of fans following their favorite teams and players on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
A great example of this is when Messi made his decision to go to Inter Miami. Inter Miami’s Instagram page was flooded with excited soccer fans. Their follower count went from 900k to 8.4M. This is more than every NFL, MLB, NHL and MLS team. Talk about the Messi effect!
Soccer Stadium Attendances
Stadium attendances are another way to measure the popularity of soccer. At a global scale, soccer draws tons of fans wanting to catch a live match.
Ticket sales are a huge revenue driver for teams all over the globe. This is especially true in Europe where the total market is in the billions.
As soccer becomes more popular in the U.S., just watch the average ticket sales for MLS games increase as a result. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, teams could use the increase in revenue to reinvest in their stadiums and players. But, since many arenas aren’t at full capacity today, it will most likely be a gradual increase.
Soccer is a sport that is widely popular and beloved around the world.
While it may have originated in Europe, it has since spread to all corners of the globe, with countries in South America, Africa, and Asia all having passionate fan bases and successful teams.
The youth soccer scene around the globe is exciting to witness. Soccer fields are filled with many talent levels. Boys and girls continue to develop their game and have fun playing the sport they are passionate about.
Here in the U.S., the scene is set for growth. MLS has grown in popularity. Young American athletes are making a name in Europe. The World Cup is coming in 2026.
I honestly believe that soccer will eventually become the most popular sport in the U.S. and will continue its reign in different parts of the world.
Soccer is most popular in England, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, France, Uraguay, and Spain. Soccer is becoming more popular in countries like the United States but still lags behind other geographies.
Soccer is most popular in California, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Massachusetts.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world.