Which clubs are the most supported football clubs in the world? Maybe football clubs with most trophies in the world? Not necessarily. However, you may have probably guessed that the world’s most supported clubs should be European. A good bet, but let’s take a closer look at them.
You may wonder which European club actually has the most number of fans. Some people believe it’s Manchester United and some people Real Madrid. Both these clubs are the top ones in their own country.
There is also controversy concerning the number of fans top European clubs have. One thing is for sure: No one can say what the number is exactly plus that the number is varying. However, there are guesses near the truth, and also we can say how many fans these club have exactly on social media platforms.
As we already mentioned, people think either Manchester United or Real Madrid top the list of football clubs with most fans in the world. Let’s see which one really does that.
Real Madrid comes at the top of the list of football clubs with highest fans in the world. Success naturally attracts attention and creates affection! And that’s really the case with Real Madrid. They have won 13 Champion Leagues and 34 LaLiga titles so far which actually has turned them to the most successful club in Europe. Real have a tendency to buy superstars and that’s why they are called Galacticos which means “galactic” in Spanish, but in particular, refers to footballers at superstar levels.
Great players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, David Beckham, Kaka, Makelele, Xabi Alonso, and Steve McManaman have all played for the LaLiga giant some time during their careers. Ok! Enough of the success, let’s get to numbers! Although the number of Real Madrid fans is declared by some sports sites to be around 250 million, Real Madrid’s director of institutional relations, Emilio Butragueno, says the real number of Real fans is something around 450 million scattered across 186 of 193 countries in the world, and yet, based on Global Football Monitor’s report, it’s something around 490 million.
The LaLiga giant has 94.4 million followers on Instagram, 35.7 million on Twitter, and 110 million on Facebook, and all these numbers are growing. Just take a look at other websites reports and you’ll see it for yourself. And did you know that some biggest celebrities around the world are among Real fans? Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, King Abdullah II, Jennifer Lopez, Robbie Williams, Penelope Cruz, and Russel Crowe are all supporters of the Los Blancos. The club is also among the top 10 football clubs with most trophies in the world with 90 trophies so far.
The second on the list of most popular football clubs in the world, Barcelona is said to have around 233 million supporters across the globe and is also the richest football club in the world with an annual revenue of more than €800 million. Maybe these days the name, Barcelona, is mostly associated with the name, Lionel Messi. Some believe the club has gained lots of supporters since the Argentinian superstar has shined for them, however, one cannot say the club’s own achievements have not played a part in its popularity if one knows that they have won 26 LaLiga titles and 30 Copa del Rey until now.
Barcelona have around 92.4 million followers on Instagram, more than 102 million on Facebook, and 16 million on Twitter. Legends such as Diego Maradona, Romario, Thierry Henry, Johan Cryuff, and Frank Rijkaard, and great players like Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Pep Guardiola, and Neymar have all played some time at the club during their careers. Barcelona FC is among few football clubs in the world to be truly run by its fans – actually its 14,000 social members who make the decisions for the club.
Barcelona also own the largest stadium in Europe capable of holding around 100,000 fans which is actually 10,000 more than Wembley Stadium. Maybe one reason behind having a huge fan base is that more fans can attend the matches compared to other clubs. Barcelona fans are sometimes referred to as “culés” which means “ass” in Catalan language. The story behind this calling dates back to 1920s when Barcelona played in their former stadium, Les Corts, that couldn’t hold so many fans. As a result, some of the fans had to sit on the highest row of the stadium with their bottoms partly sticking out of the edge. Those who passed by underneath could see those partly-stuck-out butts, and therefore called Barca fans “ass”!
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Although once in 2013 it was announced that Manchester United had 659 million fans that had grown from 333 million in five years, many football pundits doubted the numbers and said they were unrealistic, though it was based upon a survey carried out by Kantar. The number should be something around 134 million, they said. However, whatever the number is, Man Utd have always valued their fans. If you happen to stumble upon the fan page on their official website, you would surely be stricken by that big “The Best Fans in the World”.
Around 400 celebrities and famous people support Manchester United among them are Brad Pitt (actor), Andy Goldstein (TV and radio presenter), Darren Campbell (athlete), Jamie Delgado (tennis player), Jamie Moore (boxer), Kim Jong-un (North Korea leader), Lex Luger (WWE wrestler), Shahrukh Khan (Indian actor), Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (Emir of Qatar), The Game (rapper), and Victoria Beckham (singer and the wife of David Beckham). Maybe now we know why Manchester United value their fans so much!
Manchester United have around 38.4 million followers on Instagram, around 24 million on Twitter, and more than 73 million on Facebook. Looks like they are most popluar on Facebook. One interesting fact concerning Man Utd and their fans is that once the club announced that they were hirign a die-hard fan to run their social media for a £100,000 salary. Also there are more than 200 branches of Manchester United Supporters Club around the world, namely in more than 23 countries. The Red Devils have also a customer base of 11 million which includes all fans who have completed at least one financial transaction with the club.
One of the soccer teams with most fans in the world, Chelsea is said to have around 145 million fans around the world, but again this number comes from no reliable source. Another source says that Chelsea have around 88 million fans in total. The English club known also as “The Blues” have around 24.7 million followers on Instagram, 15.7 million followers on Twitter, and near 49 million followers on Facebook. They say most of Chelsea fans are plastic fans - fake fans whose support for a team is not determined by geography or family ties but by merely the glories and the success a team has achieved. They are also called glory hunters; if they see another team is more successful, they go support that team.
Chelsea fans, plastic fans! They say that because Chelsea fan base hugely grew overnight when the club’s president, Roman Abramovich, pumped his billions into the club in 2003. However, that doesn’t mean all Chelsea fans follow that rule plus that some celebrities and famous people are also the supporters of Chelsea; people like Bill Clinton (former US President), Gordon Ramsay (TV chef), Kevin Garnett (NBA player), Charlize Theron (Hollywood actress), Will Ferrel (Hollywood actor), Bryan Adams (singer), and Lord Richard Attenborough (film director) who seem to love the team for just what they are.
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If not the most supported football club in the world, Juventus are for sure the most supported club in Italy according to the Italian research agency, Demos & Pi, with 34% of all Italian football fans being in their fan base. Although this figure belongs to 2016 but still it’s an outstanding one plus that the number of Juventus fans has probably grown since 2016, meaning that the figure could be even bigger now. The total number of Juventus fans is said to be 300 million with 41 million in Europe and 12 million in Italy alone.
However, according to some other sources, the number of Juventus fans is 180 million all around the world, while still some other sources claim that it’s just more than 90 million. Whatever the number should be, one thing is for sure, and that is Juventus is one of the most supported football clubs in the world. It seems that they are also among the clubs with most nicknames too, if they are not the club with the most number of nicknames in the world! They have actually 7 nicknames some of them are La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady), La Fidanzata d'Italia (The Girlfriend of Italy), and Le Zebre (The Zebras).
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In terms of fan membership, Bayern Munich is the most supported football club in Germany with more than 293,000 members according to a recent survey carried out by statista.com. Some even claim that Bayern is the most supported football club in the world concerning the number of its fan members. True or not, they have people like Pope Benedict XVI among their members! Considering that they have won 69% of all domestic titles (both league titles and cups) in the current decade, there is no wonder they have attracted this number of members, and as they themselves say: The biggest football family in the world.
Unfortunately, there is not much information available concerning the total number of Bayern fans. One can just guess that by the number of followers they have on social media, though that’s not a precise measure. The Bavarians have more than 24.8 million followers on Instagram, around 1.3 million on Twitter, and near 51 million on Facebook. According to a survey carried out by the club in North America in 2017, the Bundesliga giant has fans in all 50 states of US with 43% of their fans being under 25 and one fifth of them being female.
Bayern is mostly known for its members than its fans: Other than their 293,000 official fan members, there are more than 4,400 Bayern fan clubs in the world with over 350,000 members in total. Celebrities and famous people like Pope Benedict XVI (religious leader), Nico Rosberg (Formula One driver), Steffi Graf (number one women tennis player), and Wladimir Klitchshko (legendary boxer) are among Bayern fans and legends like Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have played some time during their careers for the Bavarians.
Not the most supported football club in the world but the most popular one in France with 22% of all the nation’s football fans being their supporters, Paris Saint-Germain have a fan base of 35 million, although some other sources claim that it’s almost twice this number: something around 85.6 million. Paris Saint-Germain, in their first three years of formation, were a fan-owned club and had around 15,000 members who paid an annual fee of 25 to 40 francs (4 to 6 euros) to hold up the club.
Unfortunately, PSG fans have a long history of hooliganism behind them with even one murder case in 2010 where a PSG fan called Yann Lorence was killed in a clash between PSG and Marseille fans. They have also committed acts of racism like in 2006-07 UEFA Cup that they lost 4-2 to the Israeli club, Hapoel Tel Aviv, they started to attack Jewish fans in the streets and make them subjects of racial abuse. And when a plain-clothes police officer interfered, it ended in killing a PSG fan named Julien Quemener by the same officer.
Enough of hooliganism! Let’s see how many followers PSG have on social medial. They have 32.4 million followers on Instagaram, 8.5 million on Twitter, and more than 42.2 million on Facebook. Famous people like the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, former NBA player, Tony Parker, and the former top Belarusian tennis player, Victoria Azarenka, are all PSG fans, not to mention that celebrities like US rapper, Tyga, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, and Kim Kardashian have all been seen in Le Parc des Princes among PSG fans.
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According to a study published in 2015, Liverpool with 580 million fans are the second club after Manchester United with the most number of fans in the world. But again, real numbers might be different, as some other sources claim that it’s just more than 80 million. Liverpool have also 300 official supporters clubs all around the world - in more than 90 countries - according to their official website. Like PSG fans, Liverpool fans have also a long history of hooliganism behind them.
The most two tragic occurrences they were involved in were the Heysel Stadium disaster where 39 fans (mostly Juventus fans) died due to being pressed against a collapsing wall in 1985 European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool and the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 where 96 Liverpool fans died in a crush against perimeter fencing. Also noteworthy to mention is that as a result of Heysel Stadium all English clubs were banned from taking part in European competitions for five years with Liverpool being banned for 10 years, though later that was changed to 6 years. 14 Liverpool fans were also accused of involuntary manslaughter.
Liverpool have around 29.3 million followers on Instagram, and near 38.6 million on Facebook. However, they are not as popular as other clubs on Twitter with their followers not even reaching a million - only 442,000. Among celebrities and famous people who are Liverpool fans are the famous English-Irish singer and song writer, Chris de Burgh, the American actress and Brad Pitt’s wife, Angelina Jolie, WWE wrestler, Sheamus, UK’s big comedian, John Bishop, hip-hop pioneer, Dr. Dre, Hollywood actor, Liam Neeson, and American producer and actor, Samuel L. Jackson.
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Nicknamed the Gunners - which is indeed in harmony with the team name, Arsenal have around 125 million fans in the world according to some sources, however, there are still other sources that say the number is not that big - only around 73 million. Yet, a survey carried out in 2011, showed that the number of Arsenal fans was something around 100 million, making them the fourth most supported football club in the world, according to the survey.
Arsenal fans are called Gooners which is actually a derivation from the team’s nickname, the Gunners. Arsenal is the first Premier League club who have sold a percentage of the club shares to their fans, giving them the right to attend the club’s shareholders meetings. Arsenal fans are scattered all around the world, but according to some sources, most of them are located in England, Asian countries, Africa and North America. One interesting fact about Arsenal fans is that some of them are called the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal for their constant criticism of the team even at times of success.
Arsenal have 18.8 million followers on Instagram, 16.8 million on Twitter, and around 38.1 million on Facebook. Among celebrities and famous people who are Arsenal fans are Piers Morgan (English TV personality), Jay-Z (American musician and song writer), David Gilmour and Roger Waters (the former the guitarist and the latter the bassist of Pink Floyd rock band), Dido (English singer and song writer), Fidel Castro (Cuban communist leader), and even Elizabeth II (the queen of England). And did you know that the most notorious terrorist in the world, Osama Bin Ladin, was an Arsenal fan? They say he followed the club’s impressive run in 1993-94 European Winner’s Cup, and even bought his eldest son, Abdullah, an Arsenal jersey.
Manchester City fans are famous for supporting their club at any state and time, even when they relegated to the third-tier league in 1997. The evidence to that is the increasing number of attendances in those days. And since City’s move to their new stadium, City of Manchester Stadium, in 2003, the number of attendances have grown largely so that the club now ranks among the top 5 clubs in England in terms of average match attendances.
About the number of City fans, different sources say different things; some say it is more than 100 million while some other believe it is something between 70 and 80 million. Whatever the number is, Man City’s fans are considered among the most loyal fans in the world. The club has also various supporters’ clubs all around the world plus that the club’s official supporters club called MCFC Official Supporters' Club has now more than 240 branches both in UK and other countries across the globe with at least 19,000 members.
City have around 21.9 million followers on Instagram, near 8.8 million on Twitter, and almost 40 million on Facebook. The club is one of the most active football clubs online with several blogs and forums in addition to their official website to communicate with their fans. They have also a Flickr account with around 19,000 followers. Man City is also one of those football clubs with a big pool of celebrity fans: More than a hundred known figures in different professions including arts, music, acting, sports, economy, business and politics are City’s fans.
Some of these people are Liam and Noel Gallagher (Oasis band member), Will Greenwood (Rugby World Cup winner), Becky Lynch (WWE female wrestler), Craig Cash (actor, director, writer and the winner of British Academy Film Award), Timothy Dalton (English actor notably known for playing James Bond in 1987), and David Hasselhoff (American actor and the holder of Guinness record as the most watched man on TV).