One in three web users follows British football. ©Igor Zh./

One in three web users follows British football.
©Igor Zh./

(Relaxnews) – Proving that soccer is the world’s only universal language, three in 10 consumers with web access say that they watch Premier League matches on the television and 15% turn to the web to see a game.

The figures, from the GlobalWebIndex (GWI), which are based on a sample of up to 170,000 internet users across 32 countries, are focused only on support for one soccer league in one country, making them even more remarkable. For instance, in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, 50% of 16-64-year-olds said that they watch the Premier League.

In the run up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Facebook revealed that over 500 million of its then 1.2 billion members identify themselves as soccer fans. Users that claimed to be fans posted 1.7 times more photos than the average Facebook user, make 1.8 times as many status updates and 1.7 times more comments, plus send 1.8 times as many messages, to boot.

GWI found that 50-60% of Premier League fans also follow other European football leagues and that one third of fans are doing more than simply watching and are actually playing the game themselves.

Surprisingly, the heartland of support for the Premier League is Indonesia, not the UK — 54% of Indonesians watch matches on the television and 17% online, compared with 36% of UK residents that watch games on the TV and 10% that use the web. Vietnam (54%) is the second biggest concentration of fans, followed by Thailand (50% TV; 27% online), India (41% TV) and Turkey (39%, TV).

As well as the beautiful game, football fans love their devices — 85% own a smartphone, half own a tablet and four in 10 have a dedicated games console. Wearables are also starting to catch on with one in five fans claiming to own a smartwatch.

Whatever the device, they’re also avid online shoppers: 73% of fans made an online purchase within the last 30 days and the most popular item is clothing, followed by shoes, mobile phones, books and soft drinks.

What isn’t catching on yet is Snapchat. Despite the fact that football is popular across all age groups and demographics, only 7% of fans use the disappearing messaging app, compared with one third of fans that do use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Football has turned a number of athletes into global celebrities, such as David Beckham and Ronaldo and one in four Premier League fans said that they discover new brands via celebrity endorsements.

One in three men and one in six women said that they follow a sports star via social media and although men are twice as likely as women to be Premier League fans, almost 30% of female respondents said that they find brands via celebrity endorsements, compared with just over 20% of men.

European supporters were the least likely as a group to be swayed by such endorsements (14%), while in the Asia Pacific region (27%) it is clearly more effective.