It all started with a plea—a message without sponsors—and, as Sunil Chhetri puts it, one straight from his heart. It caused a revolution in Indian football as far as support from the audience is concerned. Chhetri managed to strike a chord with the youth who came in large numbers to see him play his 100th international game. That marked the change in Indian football but surprisingly, India already saw a major rise in people the football following even before the beginning of the Intercontinental Cup.
Nielsen Sports, a data and measurement company, ranked 30 countries on the basis of its population percentage who claimed to have an interest in the sport. India witnessed a whopping rise of 15 points (from 30% to 45%) of people interested in football.
Surprisingly, United Arab Emirates (UAE) are leading the list with 80% of people having an interest in sports claiming to be actually interested in football. And, contrary to popular belief, Brazil has seen a downfall. They have gone from 72% people interested in football down to 60%. The perceived football-crazy nation is ranked 13th among 30 countries.
According to the report, the last season of Brazilian Championship recorded a meagre average attendance of 16,418. The footfall depended on factors like the importance of the match, teams involved, kickoff time and the weather.
UAE is followed by Thailand and Chile (78%), Portugal and Turkey (75%). A modest rise was seen in China (27 to 32%) and US (28 to 32%) as well. Whereas, the United Kingdom (UK) did not see a rise despite having the English Premier League (EPL) as they stand at 51%.