Football is a sport with billions of followers across the world, with certain sections of fans being religious over supporting their favourite icons on the football field.
Celebrated football personalities such as the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are worshipped as literal Gods of the game, and arguably have way more followers than any other athlete in the world.
Enter Tom Brady
That notion was recently challenged by Americans after the Super Bowl was played in the past weekend, when Tom Brady lifted the National Football League title with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at the Raymond James Stadium.
Fans of American football were enthralled by Brady’s performance at the NFL’s annual showcase event, as the Buccaneers’ veteran quarter-back – considered to be one of the greatest of all time – won his seventh championship ring.
The 43-year-old Brady’s triumphant performance triggered numerous fans of American football to claim that their native version of the game is more popular than the global version.
An article published by The Herd listing the world’s most famous athletes from 2018 has been making the rounds on social media, with Brady right at the top of the bunch. Surprisingly Cristiano Ronaldo is the only footballer in the top five of the list, while Messi does not even make the top five.
Football followers on Twitter retorted to these claims by comparing the numbers of Instagram followers of famous footballers with that of famous American football players.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that stalwarts of the global version of the game are much more popular worldwide than their American counterparts – Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s most-followed athlete on Instagram with a total of 261 million followers, while Lionel Messi and Neymar follow the Portuguese with 183 million and 146 million respectively.
Casual reminder of just how insane the reach of global soccer stars is.— Richie O'Reilly (@richieoreillyIV) February 9, 2021
LOOK AT THIS. pic.twitter.com/Us8QjU5ww9
On the contrary, Tom Brady who is widely celebrated as the greatest American football player of all time has a follower count of 9 million – considerably lower than that of the aforementioned footballers.
Even with iconic footballers such as the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar kept out of the equation, footballers still triumph in the popularity contest – the likes of promising young footballers Vinicius Junior and Gabriel Jesus both have more social media followers than Brady.
I mean………. pic.twitter.com/5ePKCTHRFh— Richie O'Reilly (@richieoreillyIV) February 9, 2021
Piers said it
Famous TV personality and known football follower Piers Morgan fuelled the fire in favour of the football community when he tweeted that Ronaldo and Messi are a hundred times more globally popular than Brady.
🤣🤣🤣 Hate to burst your US-centric bubble, but Ronaldo & Messi are 100x more famous globally than Brady…. https://t.co/4MIWCjQPCN— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 9, 2021
Morgan’s claim is not the most accurate, but the discussed statistics do suggest that footballers are more popular around the world than their American counterparts.
Football is indeed the most followed sport in the world – boasting a following of nearly four billion people, and its supremacy over its American version was statistically proved right when the followers of both the sports clashed on social media platforms this week.