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More than half the population of Middle East & Africa to keep track of World Cup 2010

Egyptians and Saudi Arabians are biggest fans in the region.

June 16, 2010 1:55 by

UAE, 16 JUNE 2010: With the World Cup finals in their first week, a global survey conducted by The Nielsen Company reveals that 55 percent of people surveyed in the Middle East & Africa region will follow the games, though only 48 percent indicated are football fans. Globally, 51 percent indicated they will watch the game, and 34 percent consider themselves football fans.

In the Middle East & Africa region, Egyptians declared themselves the most avid followers of football with more than half (56%) saying they are fans of the game, followed by Saudis (54%) and Pakistanis (43%). In the UAE, the interest for football is comparatively lower, with only 40% describing themselves as football fans. But the appeal of the World Cup finals appears to reach far beyond football’s usual fan base – the Nielsen figures reveal that in the Middle East & Africa countries surveyed, the intent to follow the World Cup was much higher than the traditional football fan base. Countries with the highest level of intent to follow the finals were South Africa (69%), Egypt (61%) and Saudi Arabia (57%), with the UAE registering a comparatively lower appeal for the tournament at 48%.

Around the world, Brazilians are the most fervent of football followers, with 69 percent describing themselves as a fan of the game, followed by consumers in Portugal (60%), Egypt (56%), Indonesia (54%), Saudi Arabia (54%), Spain (53%), Venezuela (53%), Vietnam (52%), Italy (48%) and India (47%).

While the World Cup finals clearly have enormous global appeal, focus is strongest in Latin America where an extraordinary 78 percent of people say they will follow the finals of football’s greatest prize. Globally, the countries with the highest level of intent to follow the finals are Brazil (84%), Argentina (83%), South Korea (76%), Portugal (75%), Italy (75%) and Mexico (74%).

“As the most widely followed sporting event in the world, interest in the World Cup cuts across the demographics of age, gender, income, and nationality,” notes Himanshu Vashishtha, Managing Director of The Nielsen Company in the Middle East, Pakistan. “The sporting event’s broad appeal brings people together in a way few other global occasions do as they follow their preferred teams’ performances. This excited and captivated audience offers businesses abundant possibilities that can only be truly capitalized upon by gaining insights into consumers’ viewing behaviors, preferences, and consumption patterns during the month-long tournament.

The World Cup’s most successful team of all time, five-time winner Brazil, is a strong favourite amongst global football fans to triumph once again – over one-third of global consumers (34%) believe Brazil will take out the 2010 World Cup. In the Middle East & Africa region, 37 percent are expecting Brazil to win.

Somewhat surprisingly, Euro 2008 champion Spain is only fancied by eight percent of football pundits globally. Nine percent of people think three-times world champs Germany will win again, while a further nine percent back Argentina, USA or England.

While the USA appears to be in with a strong chance, this is fuelled largely by a patriotic 46 percent of North Americans. Just four percent of people outside of North America rate USA’s chances as strongly.

The current World Champion, Italy, is backed by just six percent to repeat their winning performance of 2006. France, the winner in 1998, is backed by just five percent of people.

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