Football is the most popular sport in the world and clubs have been keen to play friendlies and tournaments out in Asia to promote their club and bring in more fans. The Premier League holds a tournament called the “Premier League Asia trophy” which is held every other year to promote the league in the continent. The tournament has been going on since 2003 and has been an incredible success.
A recent survey showed that Manchester United are the most popular club in Asia (apart from Japan with a majority of fans supporting AC Milan.) The Red Devils are closely followed by Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City with the Spanish and German giants Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich all making the list. Asia as a continent is a huge market for Premier League clubs, the continent loves football and usually stay up extremely late to watch the English clubs due to difficult timezones.
The fans in Asia are also extremely passionate about their respective national teams. In South Korea, fan favourite Son Heung-min has brought in many fans for Tottenham Hotspur as he keeps performing at the highest level for his national team: South Korea. Some other exciting players from Asia are Japan and Real Betis’ Takashi Inui, Zaragoza’s Shinji Kagawa and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Makoto Hasebe.
However, fans in Asia are extremely fond of the 3 best players in the world: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. Lionel Messi is reportedly the continent’s favourite player closely followed by the others in Ronaldo and Neymar. The growing popularity has also seen a big increase in the number of youngsters taking part in the sport. Asia have numerous young talents coming through at European clubs such as Real Madrid’s Takefusa Kubo who came through the youth academy of bitter rivals FC Barcelona.
So the question is, how is the sport growing so quickly in popularity? The Premier League Asia trophy is bringing in a huge amount of fans for the English clubs, however, clubs like Paris Saint Germain are organising their own pre-season tours which help the club grow in popularity. The International Champions Cup is also held every season with many games held in Asia to help grow the fanbases of different clubs around the world.
The growing popularity of the sport is shown with FIFA awarding the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar after a successful bid to be the host. This will bring in more fans to the National teams as all the big National teams prepare to go head to head in football’s biggest tournament which will be held in Qatar.