The world game. Named as such as it is literally the game not just played all over the world, but is uber-popular in so much of it. Clubs may represent just individual towns or cities, or even just segments of a city, but some clubs of the global game are global themselves. But which ones garner the most fanaticism?
Kept this ultra basic – we have looked at Facebook likes and Twitter followers. It’s the year 2020, whilst we could analyse matchday attendances or tv viewership or revenue streams, the social media platforms that seem to engage the most for the sporting fan, are Facebook and Twitter. That’ll do. Instagram was a bit iffy, so was Youtube, FYI.
Let’s start this out with some context. We think we have some pretty popular footy clubs in Australia. Sure, they aren’t to the scale of some names at the bottom of this piece, but we know of overseas fans of some of our true-blue Aussies. Yeah nah.
Richmond has a combined 379k fans between its Facebook and Twitter. Collingwood has 494k. West Coast not far off at 404k. Melbourne Victory also isn’t too bad for soccer with 333k.
The Brisbane Broncos appear to be the best down under at 788k, but being the only NRL club in a big city like Brisbane, you’d hope so.
Also wanted to highlight we considered non-soccer as well. The Dallas Cowboys attract 12 million between their two main social media platforms. They’ve got nothing on the list below. Mind you, they’re the same as AS Roma, who at 12 million fell well short.
Latin America, we checked, Flamengo from Rio de Janiero looks to be the strongest at 19 million, Club America from Mexico City has 14 million and Boca Juniors from Beunos Aires has 13 million.
Atletico Madrid missed the honourable mention section just, they had 19 million.
These were the five that just missed out. Dortmund has 19 million fans, edging out Atleti. Tottenham, the sixth biggest EPL club, has 20 million. Interesting one in this exercise, Galatasaray, the biggest Turkish club has 22 million fans.
Then the Milan clubs were essentially 11th and 12th, AC Milan has 32 million and Inter has 25 million fans. Both similar across Facebook, 24 and 22 million likes respectively, but Milan has over 7 million twitter followers, Inter under 3 million.
10. Manchester City
48 million (40 million on Facebook & 8 million on Twitter)
Only been hot for five minutes but its worked, they’ve accrued quite the fanbase. Crazy to think that the first EPL season this century, Man City weren’t in it, they were still a second division Maine Road plodder. Now they’re huge, they’re the City Group, owning clubs around the globe and getting in trouble with UEFA for too much cash. If they win a Champs League though, at some stage, they’ll head higher up this list for sure.
9. Paris Saint-Germain
51 million (41 million & 10 million)
Being the only club in a city the size of Paris, the capital city of the reigning FIFA World Cup winners, makes sense they’d be top ten. Mind you, haven’t always been the most successful. Domestically, since the year 2000, PSG has won six titles, six of the last seven. But Lyon won seven in a row from 2001 to 2007. However, like Man City who are run by Abu Dhabi, the Parisians are run by Qatar, and their money has shot the club into the stratosphere.
51 million (36 million & 15 million)
Maybe a smidge low, given how many fans they have all over the world. They go to the USA in their offseason and are as popular as anyone. They come to the MCG on a weeknight to play Melbourne Victory and its over 95,000. Insane following. Perhaps the numbers don’t fully reflect their standing. But also they are a victim of, until reticently of course, not being successful enough whilst the new money into Man City and Chelsea boosted them at a time when social media boomed.
51 million (41 million & 10 million)
The Old Lady is the biggest club in Italy by far. Some suggest more Romans support Juve than Roma or Lazio. Crazy big. You meet an Italian anywhere in the world, probably a Juve fan. And then getting Ronaldo only helped too, in the newer markets outside of Italy and Europe particularly. Most successful, biggest, they’re just a juggernaut.
53 million (37 million & 16 million)
Was the biggest London club, or some would say they still are. Either way, that earns a significant following regardless. Had a mega successful period in relatively recent times too which helps grow the fanbase overseas; we probably all know a couple Gunners fans. Probably slipping a bit too, actually.
5. Bayern Munich
57 million (50 million & 7 million)
Monster. An absolute monster. Huge fanbase, huge membership, just killing it in Germany, the most well-run organised nation in world football. 75% of the club is owned by the members, with the other 25% shared by a couple small businesses, Allianz, Adidas and Audi. These are huge brands, and not overlooking just how successful Bayern has been onfield as well, Bayern too is a huge brand in itself.
65 million (48 million & 17 million)
Russian oil money propelled what was already a pretty decent, inner-London club ‘with promise’ into the first of the ‘money can buy you success, and a following’ franchises in world football. Big spending, big performances, every member of the XI must be a household name and the trophy cabinet would be filled off the back of it. And at the right time too, when social media was becoming a thing.
3. Manchester United
97 million (73 million & 24 million)
Biggest club in the world’s most followed competition. Man Utd is like the NY Yankees or the LA Lakers, but just much, much bigger. Tonnes of titles, tonnes of recognisable stars, and as the EPL boomed from just the English first division into the sporting competition beamed into all four corners of the world, the Red Devils reigned supreme. Juggernaut.
162 million (103 million & 59 million)
Pipped at the post by their bitter rivals. Barca isn’t a football club, its a sporting religion, that transcends anything that happens onfield. More people care about Barca than La Liga. Its about Messi, its about decades of history and sustained success, its about the city of Barcelona as well. Title after title, crowds nudging 100,000, they’re just enormous.
1. Real Madrid
167 million (113 million & 54 million)
The Kings, pardon the pun. Let alone their local brother Atletico ain’t small themselves, they are nicknamed the ‘Galacticos’ for goodness sake. Have always looked to market themselves as not just the biggest club in Spain, annoying their Catalan rival no end, but also as ‘the club’ for any fan anywhere in the world. And its worked. Quite a few Champions League titles, but also attracting the game’s biggest names, Beckham, Ronaldo, to name a few, its been a recipe destined for success.