“Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes equipes! The Champions!”. Most football fans would easily notice this iconic anthem. Yes, it is the anthem of one of the most popular football competitions in the world, the UEFA Champions League.
Along with the quadrennial FIFA World Cup, the Champions League is amongst the most anticipated events by football fans. The good news is that the Champions League is held anually and can be watched throughout the season.
The Champions League has come a long way since 1955 when it used to be called the “European Cup”. Changes were made, but one thing stayed the same. It remains Europe’s premiere competition to determine the best club in the continent.
Attracting 380 million audiences, the Champions League final ranked 8th among the most viewed sporting events in the world. An impressive achievement for a standalone game as it is compared with multi-sport and week-long events such as the Olympics and Tour De France.
The fact that football is a global sport does play a role in promoting the Champions League, but how did it end up as one of the most popular footballing events? Here is what you need to know!
Why is the Champions League so popular?
Here are 4 reasons why the Champions League is so popular:
#1 The most prestigious trophy in club football
The UEFA Champions League is a continental competition for clubs across Europe.
With that said, the UEFA Champions League remains a class above the other continental cups in terms of prestige. One reason would be the high level of football played within the competition. It can be shown by how Champions League representatives dominate the Club World Cup each year.
The Champions League is not only chased by top clubs in Europe, but also by elite football players around the world. Qualifying for the Champions League often serves as leverage for clubs to attract high-quality players in the transfer market.
The saga between Frenkie De Jong of Barcelona and Manchester United in the 2022 Summer transfer Window says it all. Despite highly-rating Erik Ten Hag as Manager, Frenkie De Jong is unwilling to move to a non-Champions League side in Manchester United.
#2 Contested by the best leagues in the world
|1||Premier League (England)||1.7 billion|
|2||La Liga (Spain)||903 million|
|3||Serie A (Italy)||380 million|
|4||Bundesliga (Germany)||298 million|
|5||Ligue 1 (France)||120 million|
|6||Primeira Liga (Portugal)||98 million|
|7||Eredivisie (Netherlands)||90 million|
|8||Major League Soccer (USA)||72 million|
|9||Brasileirão (Brazil)||55 million|
|10||Primera Division (Argentina)||43 million|
The top 7 of the 10 most viewed leagues in the world are all European leagues. Not every league on the list has a global following, but with teams like Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Paris Saint Germain, the top 5 league does attract a lot of global audiences.
One of the reasons why these leagues are popular is for the display of high-level football. Hence, the leagues are broadcasted globally and clubs have a wider fan base across the world.
As some of the best clubs from each league participated in the Champions League, it will be watched by their loyal fan base. Combined with other football fans who are looking for high-level matches, it boosts the viewership of the Champions League significantly.
#3 An abundance of star powers
With the best clubs in the world comes an exclusive list of talented footballers. In a competition participated by European champions, the Champions League is one of the few events where international stars such as Messi, Benzema, Ronaldo, Salah, and Lewandowski compete with each other.
Those names mentioned above instantly attract millions of fans around the World, particularly players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the star powers that players like Sadio Mane and Heung Min Son bring should not be underestimated.
Sadio Mane is not only a star for Liverpool (before joining Bayern), he is extremely famous in his home country of Senegal and he is considered almost a fairtrade brand. The same goes for Heung Min Son of South Korea, who will be back in the Champions League with Tottenham Hotspurs.
Countries like Senegal and South Korea do not have many players in Europe, let alone the Champions League. It is a big deal when their players have the chance to play in the Champions League, which eventually attracts more viewers and increases the popularity of the Champions League.
#3 Remarkable moments and underdog stories
More than just a game, football is beloved by billions of people for every aspect of the sport. From insane goals, inspiring stories, hard-fought comebacks, and underdog campaigns, it makes football one of the most enjoyed sports in the world.
Like with most football competitions, all the aspects above are present in the UEFA Champions League, only with a much larger stake to play for.
As the seasons go by, here are a few of the many remarkable moments and underdog stories the Champions League offers in the last decade:
- Chelsea’s underdog campaign (2012)
- La Remontada (2017)
- Christiano Ronaldo’s spectacular goal against Juventus (2018)
- Liverpool’s quick corner (2019)
- Rodrygo’s 1-minute brace to eliminate Manchester City (2022)
There are more moments and matches worth mentioning, but that list would be way too long! Quite often these moments turn into iconic events ingrained in the history of football.
For this reason, the UEFA Champions League is only getting more popular.
The Champions League is the pinnacle of club football. Each year, top clubs are fighting for their spot in the Competition, while players are set to make their mark on the world.
Combined with enthusiastic support from a growing global fan base, it is not hard to see why the Champions League is so popular!
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