World Cup survey: Fans back Germany as Russia 2018 favourites

A third of football fans are backing Germany to win the 2018 World Cup, according to a Football Media survey.

The poll paints Germany (34.5%) as clear favourites ahead of Brazil (22.9%), with European rivals France (12.2%) and Spain (8.2%) coming in some distance behind. In comparison, only 3.4% of fans polled thought Lionel Messi’s Argentina could win this year’s World Cup.

Germany are bidding to win their fifth World Cup following their success in 2014 in Brazil. The Germans demolished Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals, before beating Argentina 1-0 after extra-time in the final.

Brazil will be chasing a sixth World Cup triumph in Russia, but four-time winners Italy won’t be there after failing to qualify for the tournament. The Netherlands, United States and Chile are other notable absentees.

England will hope to put their poor showing in Brazil firmly behind them. The magnitude of that task is encapsulated perfectly in the responses from UK residents, where only 7.8% of fans polled thought Gareth Southgate’s men could win in Russia, despite an overwhelming majority supporting England.

How will you be watching the 2018 World Cup?

The survey gave us more insights into how fan habits have evolved in the last decade, with almost 30% fans confirming that they favour online streaming to watch football on a regular basis, on par with 33% of fans who prefer watching football at a bar or pub.

However, 88.7% fans said they would they would be watching most of the World Cup games at home – which is good news for BBC and ITV in the UK.

The two companies will join some of the world’s leading broadcasters in screening the tournament including FOX and Telemundo in the USA, TF1 and beINSports in France, Italy’s Mediaset and SporTV in Brazil. Fans in China can watch the tournament on CCTV, SuperSport is the broadcaster of choice in most African nations while Sony Pictures Networks have secured the rights in the Indian subcontinent.

The majority of FIFA’s revenues come from the sale of television broadcasting rights, particularly related to the World Cup. The governing body has forecast revenues of £4.08 billion
in the four years up to the Russia tournament – a potential five percent increase on the previous World Cup cycle.

The world’s biggest sponsorship opportunity

Fans were also asked about which brands they associated the most with the World Cup – and while brands like Adidas (70.1%) and Coca-Cola (55%) have had a long-term affiliation with FIFA and the World Cup, but that hasn’t stopped rival brands from capturing the fans’ interest with World Cup targeted campaigns associating the likes of Nike (46.6%) and Pepsi (26.5%) with football’s premier event without the expense that comes with event sponsorship.

On the other hand, new FIFA sponsors like Wanda (2%) and GazProm (6%) still have some way to go, although it will be interesting to see how those numbers change after Russia 2018.

The governing body does not disclose how much it is paid by sponsors, although it has been estimated that Coca-Cola pay around £30 million / year to FIFA, while Russian energy giant Gazprom are believed to have paid around £60m to become a FIFA partner for the 2018 World Cup, and Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group inked a deal reportedly worth “hundreds of millions” to sponsor the next four World Cups.

Despite the perceived declining popularity of international football the World Cup remains a massive draw, with over 50% of respondents having watched the previous five World Cups, and 95% of respondents confirming that they will be watching more than half of the tournament this summer.

Over one billion fans tuned in to watch the final of the 2014 World Cup, with the competition reaching a global in-home television audience of 3.2 billion people.

To put the appeal of the World Cup into context, the UEFA Champions League final attracts around 350 million viewers worldwide while an estimated 103.4 million people watched the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2018.

Fans spend billions on football every year

The Football Media survey was conducted across its publisher network, with 92% of those polled identifying themselves as passionate supporters who follow their team news every day. Furthermore, 72% fans pair their interest in football with entertainment in the form of mobile gaming, betting, fantasy football, console games and football management simulations.

Football fans are the most devoted in sport, topping the high spending supporters league with over £5 billion splashed out on their passion every year. On average, it costs football followers around £300 per year to keep tabs on their team from going to games to buying merchandise and other associated costs, nearly triple what tennis fans pay.

The 2014 World Cup generated a £1.88 billion profit for FIFA, with British gamblers wagered more than £1 billion over the course of the tournament, making it the biggest betting event in UK history.

Russia 2018 looks set to beat these numbers this summer.

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