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Fickle Fans: The World Cup effect

The success of France in the 2018 World Cup propelled the flagship FIFA event to the number one competition among French citizens, surpassing even the domestic football league, Ligue 1, in terms of its popularity.

In a World Cup year, one might expect that all countries (particularly those participating) would witness a boost in interest in the event, at a minimum due to enhanced brand exposure. But this is not necessarily the case. By comparing the interest expressed in the World Cup by consumers across a selection of markets which Ampere polls, between Q3 2017 and Q3 2018 - a year prior to the FIFA World Cup and immediately after the competition, Ampere Analysis’s data suggests that while the strong performance of a national team (as in France) boosts the fan base of the World Cup, a weak performance actually negatively affects the size of the competition's fanbase in that market.

Amongst the countries that performed ‘well’, or at least beyond the nations’ expectation, interest in the World Cup among sports fans grew. Sweden, one of the underdogs of the tournament made it to the quarter finals, resulting in an increase of interest of nearly 9% year-on-year, making FIFA’s competition the number one sports event in the country, overtaking the Summer and Winter Olympics. At the other end of the spectrum, in countries where the national team underwhelmed its fans, the competition’s fan base decreased. Germany (early exit) and Italy (failed to qualify) were the worst affected, with FIFA shedding over 10% of its World Cup fans across the two markets.

Many football fans, it seems, are happy to support the competition when the national team is performing well, but abandon it when the going gets tough.