Are Brazilians not so soccer mad after all?

United Arab Emirates tops survey on population who say they’re interested in football

Brazil’s reputation as a soccer-mad country has been dented by a report which found that only 60 percent of those interviewed said they were interested in the sport.

The United Arab Emirates came top of a table compiled by global information, data and measurement company Nielsen Sports which ranked 30 countries according to the percentage of the population who described themselves as interested in football.

The UAE, where the figure was 80 percent, was followed by Thailand (78 percent) and Chile, Portugal and Turkey (all 75) while five-times world champions Brazil ranked a modest 13th.

The Brazilian figure had dropped from 72 percent in 2013, the year before the country hosted the World Cup where the national team were humiliated 7-1 in the semi-finals by Germany.


Brazilians can be very fickle about football and attendances at games in the country fluctuate wildly, depending on the form of the teams involved, whether they are at a decisive stage of a competition, the kickoff time of the match and even the weather.

Last season’s Brazilian championship had a modest average attendance of 16,418.

The report said that the figure for China increased from 27 percent in 2013 to 32 percent in 2017, in India from 30 percent to 45 percent and in the US from 28 percent to 32 percent.

The United Kingdom, despite boasting the English Premier League, was a modest 17th in the rankings with 51 percent.

The report also said that Portugal and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo dominated the use of social media by players, well ahead of his rival Lionel Messi.

His 570 million engagements across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the first five months of this year were well ahead of Neymar, with 294 million, and Messi with 201 million.

The report pointed out that engagements, rather than number of followers, were the key to understanding the value of a social media account, as they showed how many people interacted with the account and gave a better idea of impact and influence.

Social media success was not always linked to success on the pitch, the report added.

“A broader range of factors comes into play, such as the ability to project a likeable personality or enviable lifestyle,” it said.

Controversial Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos was fourth with 158 million engagements and Liverpool and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah fifth with 105.3 million.

In terms of social media followers, Ronaldo also led with 322.8 million across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook combined while Neymar had 194.2 million and Messi 181.9 million.