The football landscape Image

The football landscape ­

4 min. reading time

A global ecosystem

Football’s global appeal extends beyond attracting the interest of fans around the world: from sponsorship to broadcasting, from club ownership to the origin of its main stars, the game’s reach is universal.
There are five billion football fans around the world, with Latin America, the Middle East and Africa representing the largest fan bases.

These fans will very often support their national team,
 their local club, a "world" club, and sometimes even a particular player.

Widening financial disparity in global club football

Football clubs are global forces, but there is a visible and growing disparity between teams from different regions in the world.

In nine of the past ten editions of the FIFA Club World Cup™, the winners have all come from the same confederation.
No club from outside Europe is ranked in the top 30 revenue generators in global football.
In the 2018-2019 season, the top 20 clubs in the world, which are exclusively from Europe’s “big five” leagues, generated a combined revenue of EUR 9.3 billion: an increase of 11% on the previous season.
In the women's game, only two of the six confederations organise a continental championship for women’s clubs.

Increasing competitive balance in national team football

The ranking of senior national teams and the results of recent FIFA World Cups clearly demonstrate a trend towards a growing imbalance in national team football. This is directly linked to comparatively high levels of investment in Europe and low levels of investment everywhere else (with the limited exception of South America). Youth tournaments have proven to be relatively more balanced, as teams representing various continents regularly reach the final stages. However, national teams from fewer regions in the world tend to prevail in senior competitions.

62 00 %

of the teams that reached the quarter-finals in the last three editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup™ were non-European.

71 00 %

of the teams that reached the quarter-finals in the last three editions of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup™ were non-European.

92 00 %

of the teams that reached the quarter-finals in the last three editions of the FIFA World Cup were from Europe and South America.

58 00 %

of the teams that reached the quarter-finals in the last three editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup were European.

Growth of women’s football

In recent years, women’s football has enjoyed remarkable growth across different continents, notably in Europe and North America. The game has risen in both participation and interest, thus laying the foundation for the generation of higher commercial returns for the long-term benefit of the whole football movement.

2019 0000

In 2019, more than 13 million girls and women were playing organised football across the globe.

106 000 %

The average live match audience of the FIFA Women's World Cup increased by 106%, from 8.4 million in 2015 to 17.27 million in 2019.

Technological transformation

New technologies are significantly impacting the football ecosystem, both on and off the pitch. Over the past years, the introduction of the video assistant referee and the widespread use of electronic performance and tracking systems have had a positive impact on the game, improving both the safety and the performance of players and referees. From the perspective of fans, their experience and engagement is being improved thanks to the increasing use of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, augmented reality and blockchain technologies.

Change in the habits of football fans

In a world permeated by digital technologies, football fans are changing. Younger generations are multi-tasking, mobile-oriented and always connected. Their interest is directed not only to the 90 minutes of the game, but also to behind-the-scenes content; not only to established tournaments, but also to eSports competitions. The habits of football fans are evolving, and so is the way in which they experience football.

40 00 %

of the current world’s population is under 24 years of age.

77 00 %

During the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, 77% of viewers used a smartphone or tablet while watching the game on TV.

645 000

In 2019, eSports audiences have almost doubled compared to 2015, reaching more than 443 million fans worldwide, and numbers are predicted to reach 645 million by 2020.

83 00 %

of football fans use a smartphone while watching TV.

460 000 %

The consumption of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 on digital platforms saw an increase of 460% in comparison with the 2015 edition of the tournament.

A fostered focus on sustainability and social responsibility

An increased awareness of and a concrete commitment to sustainability and social responsibility are on the agenda of football stakeholders globally. Football associations and confederations, leagues and clubs are striving to incorporate these values into their activities in order to minimise the environmental impact of sporting events, to promote safe sport and to maximise the positive influence of football on people and communities around the world.

Fight against discrimination

In spite of the measures adopted so far by football stakeholders globally to tackle discrimination issues, episodes of this nature persist in football. Discrimination and racist incidents, as well as other cases of human rights violations, such as harassment and abuse, still occur in different regions of the world – not only damaging players, referees, fans and football lovers, but also preventing the achievement of a fully inclusive football movement.