With at least 3.5 billion fans worldwide, football is the most popular sport in the world.
The decision by 12 European elite clubs earlier this month to join a new league, the Super League, caused shock waves around the world.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid were part of the breakaway league.
Each club was awarded a share of the € 3.5 billion (US $ 4.2 billion) grant from investment bank JP Morgan.
The European football association UEFA and FIFA, the world governing body of football, threatened to ban both the clubs and the players and to impose fines. After angry reactions from fans, players, managers and governments, all six English clubs, Spanish club Atletico Madrid and Italian clubs Inter Milan and AC Milan withdrew from the competition, leaving the future of the Super League in doubt.
The greatest sport in the world
Football is played almost everywhere and is the most popular sport in the world. FIFA estimates that nearly 3.5 billion people, representing almost half of the planet, watched the 2018 World Cup in Russia – most of them at a single sporting event.
Below is a map with the most popular sports per country. Popularity is measured by combining various factors including viewership, number of players, public interest, and local media coverage.
Football leagues around the world
FIFA, the 116-year-old sports association, is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and manages six continental associations, including national and club leagues.
The top tournament on every continent is known in South America as the Champions League or Copa Libertadores. Top teams from each of their respective sub-leagues compete for the prestigious trophy of their continent once a year. The European UEFA Champions League pays the highest price for a football club tournament at 19 million euros.
The South American Copa Libertadores pays their championship team $ 15 million, followed by the Asian AFC Champions League winners ($ 4 million), the African CAF Champions League ($ 2.5 million), the North and Central American CONCACAF Champions League ($ 500,000) and the OFC Champions League in Oceania prize money of $ 75,000.
The most valuable clubs
According to data from Forbes’ football rating list, all of the 20 most valuable club teams in the world are based in Europe. The 20 richest teams are worth more than $ 45 billion. Spanish club rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid are each valued at at least $ 4.75 billion. All 12 teams that have signed up for the Super League are among the 20 richest teams in the world.
The most expensive players
Among the 20 most valuable players, 15 are in teams that have joined the Super League. Currently, Kylian Mbappe is the world’s most expensive club player, playing for French club Paris Saint Germain. The 22-year-old center forward is worth $ 176 million, according to the football website Transfermarkt.