What Soccer Fans Around the World Really Think of Other Men’s National Teams
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is unlike any World Cup before it. The first one in the Arab world and the first to be played outside the traditional months of June and July, the Qatar World Cup is already unprecedented — and that’s before you wade into the tournament’s many controversies, which include the host country’s human rights record.
With all of that tumult as a backdrop, Morning Consult surveyed soccer fans in the United States and eight other countries to uncover their interest in the tournament, favorite teams and players and thoughts on the various controversies, all while looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup in North America.
Fans of the beautiful game might not see eye to eye in terms of which team they think will win the World Cup, but they do agree on one thing: which men’s national teams they don’t like.
New Morning Consult data shows that the men’s national teams of Iran and host nation Qatar had the lowest net favorability ratings of the 13 teams included in a recent survey. (Net favorability rating is the share of respondents with a favorable opinion minus the share with an unfavorable opinion.) We asked soccer fans in nine countries if they had favorable or unfavorable views of the teams in those 13 countries. Fans in four countries had negative views of Qatar, while fans in seven countries — including the United States — had negative views of Iran’s team.
Iran’s players silently protested the country’s treatment of women by not singing the national anthem ahead of last month’s opening match against England. Qatar’s team lost all three of its group round matches; neither they nor Iran qualified for the knockout round.
The Spanish team, meanwhile, received high marks from fans in several countries. They were most likely to be respondents’ second favorite team, outside of their own countries’ teams.
Global Views of 2022 Men’s National Soccer Teams
Who’s liked, who’s hated in the 2022 World Cup
- After the U.S. team, self-identified American soccer fans gave the highest net favorability ratings to the English and Spanish teams.
- Polish supporters had the highest rating of the Americans (71), 2 percentage points higher than U.S. fans had of their own team, whose appearance in the World Cup likely resulted in heightened interest among fans after they failed to qualify in 2018. Meanwhile, Australians gave the lowest rating (20) to the red, white and blue.
- The three national teams with the least support among American soccer fans were Poland (30), Qatar (10) and Iran (-1).
- Of the countries surveyed, British soccer fans had the lowest net favorability rating of Brazil (44), the odds-on favorite to win the World Cup.
- Polish fans liked their team more than fans in any other country liked their own teams (84), while German fans were the group least enamored with their own team (66, tied with German fans’ view of the French team.)
Iran, Qatar teams bogged down by countries’ governments
Soccer fans’ opinions of the Iran and Qatar men’s national teams are likely less related to the players or teams themselves and more tied to the circumstances in each respective nation.
Earlier this week, Iranian security forces killed 27-year-old Mehran Samak, who honked his car and celebrated the team’s loss to the United States, according to human rights organization Iran Human Rights. Qatar’s anti-LGTBQ laws and homophobic rhetoric, meanwhile, led some fans to skip the global sporting event altogether.
At the other end of the spectrum are the teams of Spain, Brazil, England, France and Germany, which are considered among the best teams in the world and were generally favored by respondents in every country surveyed. The U.S. team, which will host the 2026 World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico, received lukewarm grades from global soccer fans. They’ll now have four years to win more fans to their side as they try to break into international soccer’s top tier.
Surveys were conducted between Oct. 19-Nov. 27, 2022, among representative samples of 95-319 self-identified soccer fans, with unweighted margins of error ranging from plus or minus 5 percentage points to plus or minus 10 percentage points. Countries surveyed include the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland and the United Kingdom.
Mark J. Burns is a sports analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where he conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises leaders in the sports industry on how to apply insights to make better business decisions. Before joining Morning Consult, he served as a beat reporter at Sports Business Journal, covering the business of hockey and soccer. Mark graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in history and holds a Juris Doctor from Belmont University. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].