Flamengo, less real fans than Hibs?

Flamengo, less real fans than Hibs?

A new study was released yesterday claiming that Flamengo is the best supported football team in Brazil, followed closely by Corinthians. (See the full report here.)

The report claims that 16.8 % of those polled back the Rio side, while 14.6 % support Corinthians. The next best placed team is Sao Paulo, with 8.1 % of preferences.

The study, carried out by Stochos and Pluri, is the latest in a string of such reports rating the support of Brazilian clubs. It feeds into the myth that teams like Flamengo and Corinthians have 30 million fans.

Borussia_dortmund_badgeWhat it doesn’t define is the meaning of fan. (The report says those polled expressed a preference for a team but it also repeatedly talks about torcidas, or fans.)

To me, a fan is someone who follows their team and participates in the club activities. That goes from the die hards who buy season tickets, to the ones who go to the odd game, buy a top or a tshirt or a calender, or contribute in some other way to the team’s revenue and well-being, even if it is just commenting on message boards or buying a pay-per-view package. (Not all fans live close enough to be able to go to games.)

hibsUsing even that loose destination, it’s clear that Flamengo or Corinthians have nothing like the 30 million fans they are purported to have.

Some 4,000 people turned up to see Flamengo last weekend. That’s 4,000 people in a city of around 8 million. Or 1-in-2000 people.

Compare that to Dortmund, the best supported club in Europe. Their average crowd is 78,000 in a city of 600,000 people. That means 1-in-6 locals go cheer their team. In other words they have 333 times more fans than Flamengo.

It’s a similar story elsewhere. The mighty Hibernian sit sixth in the Scottish Premier. Average crowds are around 9,000. Edinburgh has a population of 450,000. So 1-in-50 people in Edinburgh alone go see the Hibees.

As I wrote here last year, more people go see top flight matches in China, Mexico and Japan than in Brazil.

Studies like this one should be treated with a massive pinch of salt.

The real news here? That in the ‘pais de futebol‘ more than 1 in 5 people don’t even like the game.