Of course, ranking emotions is always an impossible task which can open up rather a large can of worms.
However, we tried to come up with a slightly more scientific method, looking at factors such as supporters loyalty, how important the game is to the nations mood and psyche, and what kind of support the nation’s national team and top club teams get at home and on their travels.
Here are our suggestions for the 7 countries most passionate about football:
In the end, we were pretty happy with our top six, but seventh place was so tight, with very little between five or six countries with all factors taken into account.
The nation which just squeaks in after much deliberation is Iran. Iran has the worst football pedigree of any nation in this seven, having played in only four World Cup’s and only having won once at the tournament - in 1998. That hasn’t stopped Iranians becoming totally infatuated with the sport though, which ranks above wrestling and volleyball in terms of popularity. Iran once had 128,000 fans turn up for a home game against Australia, and they had over 95,000 for a recent World Cup qualifier.
The scottish flag is seen during the Scottish League Cup Semi-Final match between Dundee United and Aberdeen at Hampden Park on January 31, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Historically Scotland would rank higher than sixth, but at this moment in time, we think it’s a fair ranking for the Tartan Army. Scots have both the largest attendances and watch more football than any other European nation proportionally to their population. The city of Glasgow itself, which has a smaller population than Leeds, has three stadiums which can hold more than 50,000 people. Celtic and Rangers enjoy fantastic support, as do the Scottish national team. Both at club and international level, Scotland are not currently the force they once were, but the Scottish people’s love of the game is undying.
Football is huge in Mexico. Only the Bundesliga, Premier League and La Liga average higher attendances than Mexico’s Liga MX. The national team are backed in huge numbers and with real vocal support for big games, with attendances of over 90,000 not that unusual at the historic Azteca Stadium. Whilst the country regularly qualifies for the World Cup, they have never progressed further than the Quarter-Finals - and they have only reached that stage on home soil.
German football supporters and one supporter of Argentina watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter final match between Germany and Argentina at a live public viewing on a large screen monitor...
South America as a continent has a burning love for the game of football, and the Argentines are a prime example of that. Unlike some of the others in this seven, Argentina do have illustrious international pedigree. The country has given birth to some of the greatest players in the history of the game, and they have reached five World Cup finals, winning two. 90% of Argentinians declare an allegiance to a football club, with Boca Juniors and River Plate enjoying the largest section of that support. Football occupies a permanent presence in the nations hearts, and the countries capital of Buenos Aires in one of the game’s great cities.
Argentina’s great rivals on the international stage finish one place above them in this seven. Brazil simply has to rank as one of the three most passionate countries when it comes to football. Whilst the game did not originate in Brazil, few countries have embraced it so warmly, loved it so fervently or played it so beautifully. From Pele to Garrincha, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, Brazil’s footballing pedigree is superb, and they have won the World Cup five times - which is more than any other nation. How much football means to the Brazilian people can be seen most vividly in their two most shocking defeats on home soil - in both the 1950 and 2014 World Cup’s. Domestic attendances have dropped over the last decade in Brazil for a variety of reasons, but the national team’s Maracana once played host to the largest attendance in the history of the game.
England supporters unveil a huge three lions flag in the crowd ahead of the International friendly football match between England and Italy at Wembley stadium in London on March 27, 2018.
The birthplace of the beautiful game, along with Shakespeare and the English language, football is one of England’s great contributions to this planet. They may not have been the sports finest exponents of the game for the last half century, but their passion for the sport certainly hasn’t diminished. In a country of just over 50 million people, seven Premier League teams average over 50,000 fans at home games, with second tier clubs often getting more than 30,000 and the national team typically backed by more than 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. Despite their relative failure at major tournaments for some time now, England still have the best travelling support of any nation on Earth.
The nation that we crown as the most passionate about football is the small South American nation of Uruguay. Home to fewer than three and a half million people, Uruguay have one of the most successful nation football teams on the planet. The country won consecutive Olympic Golds in 1924 and 1928, before winning the first two World Cups they entered - in 1930 and 1950. They have reached the semi-finals as recently as 2010, and qualified comfortably once more for the tournament in Russia this summer. Uruguay have also won 15 Copa America titles, which is more than any other nation.
Of course, success does not equate to passion, otherwise Germany and Italy would be in the top three of this seven, but there’s a reason why a country smaller than Ireland or the Oman has had such extraordinary success. Uruguayans live for the game - they have a burning desire to succeed and take enormous pride from their national teams achievements.
Uruguay’s capital of Montevideo is one of football’s great cities, and home to the countries two superpowers, Nacional and Penarol, whilst a city like Salto - which has a smaller population than Darlington - has given birth to Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Uruguay regularly gets 50,000 fans for home games, and whilst their club crowds aren’t as impressive, we still have to crown them as the most passionate footballing nation on Earth. Uruguay have also hosted seven international tournaments on home soil - and have won every one of them.