Posted on December 15, 2015

SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC participation data reveals positive figures for UK football.

With England safely qualified for Euro 2016, and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all nursing high hopes of joining them, next summer could be a momentous one for football in the UK.

The optimism is being further stoked by SMS INC’s new participation data, which shows that the UK has the highest rate of football participation in Europe *, with 7% of the adult population playing at least once a quarter.

This equates to 2.9m adult and 2.4m child players hoping to cheer on Rooney, Bale, Lafferty, Brown et al next summer.

Whilst the UK’s football fields remain male dominated, they are no more so than those of their European counterparts. 85% of UK players are male, the same proportion as in Germany, and slightly more balanced than France and Denmark. Sweden however, where football is the #4 sport overall and where the sport’s gender balance is 78:22 shows that there is further scope for getting women involved in the game.

Indeed, the picture is very different in North America, where soccer is proving attractive to almost as many women as men. In the USA, the sport they call “soccer” is now played by the same proportion of the population as American Football. 42% of these players are women and they play just as often as men. In Canada, the same trend is in evidence, albeit less pronounced, with 31% of all players female.

The age of players offers further encouragement to the home nations. Just under a third of children aged 6-17 in the UK play football, the highest of any country surveyed. In fact, compared to some of the continent’s footballing superpowers, the figure appears even more impressive. It is more than double the rate in Belgium and more than 10 percentage points higher than in Germany, the world’s number 2 and 3 nations respectively and 2.4 times higher than the rate of participation in France. However, offering young players the support, facilities and encouragement to play more often is an area in which the UK could look to improve. Pre-teens play almost 71 times a year on average in Germany compared to 46 times a year in the UK. If this play frequency were repeated by the national teams at Euro 2016, it would be the difference between a quarter final berth and a place in the final, which will be a team’s 7th and final game of the tournament.

*Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and The UK were the European markets sampled

For more information, contact info@sportsmarketingsurveysinc.com / 01932 345539

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