Sports in Asia – Fan Favorites

What sports are you a fan of? At Rakuten AIP, we asked people in the three most populous Asian countries – China, India and Indonesia (combined nearly two thirds of 4.4 billion people in Asia) – as well as Japan for comparison, on what sports they consider themselves a fan of.

Soccer / Football consistently a Top 4 pick

China and Indonesia shares similar traits of favoring Badminton, Soccer / Football and Swimming. Cricket is a top pick in India, while Baseball and Soccer are favorites in Japan. Soccer is notably among the top 4 in all four countries.

Q. Which of the following sports are you a fan of? (Select all that apply)
(Showing top 4 picks per country – see Survey Details for full list of sports asked)


Things got interesting when we dug further to see if there’s differences by gender. In China and Indonesia, Soccer was the top pick among Males, while Badminton led among Females. India and Japan showed some changes in ranking of top 5, but overall Cricket retained the top choice in India, and Baseball / Soccer for Japan, regardless of gender.

Sports in Asia - Fan Favorites

When we tallied up all four countries together, Soccer was the overall top pick among Males, while Badminton came on top for Females.

Favorite Soccer Team: 3 global names

With the FIFA Confederations Cup just finished earlier this month and the World Cup coming up in 2018, we were curious to find out people’s favorite soccer team.

Across the four countries, 3 globally recognized teams kept surfacing as people’s favorite:

Sports in Asia - Fan Favorites

In China, India and Indonesia, soccer fans named those 3 teams in that order, while in Japan, FC Barcelona took the top pick. In Japan, the local soccer team Gamba Osaka came in third ahead of Manchester United.

Q. What is your favorite soccer team in the world? (Name one team)
(Showing positions of Manchester United, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona)

Sports in Asia - Fan Favorites

Base: Soccer Fans (China n=181, India n=111, Indonesia n=151, Japan n=86). Excluding national teams. In Japan, local soccer team “Gamba Osaka” came in 3rd with 8%, ahead of Manchester United. Open-end responses coded.

Messi vs Ronaldo

There’s no doubt that Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid rule the fields of soccer. Both superstars are top mentions across the four countries as people’s favorite player. In fact, when combining counts across the four countries, they comprise of roughly half of all mentions, evenly split between the two.

When we look at individual countries, we see that Messi leads in China, India and Japan, while Ronaldo has a stronger following in Indonesia.

Q. Imagine you had the chance to directly ask one question to your favorite soccer player. Who would you ask, and what would your question be?


Base: Soccer Fans (China n=181, India n=111, Indonesia n=151, Japan n=86). Open-end responses coded.

What would you ask Messi?

If you had a chance to ask one question to Messi, what would you ask? We examined responses from Messi fans from all four countries. Interestingly, most questions to Messi can be grouped to technical skills and expertise, or larger aspirations in life, regardless of country. We picked up a few fan quotes:

Questions around technical skills/expertise:

  • “What is the content of your daily training?” (China)
  • “How do you manage to keep the ball stuck to your foot?” (India)
  • “What routine do you do before you play?” (Indonesia)
  • “What’s the best way to train soccer as a child?” (Japan)

Questions around larger aspirations in life:

  • “What is the greatest happiness of football?” (China)
  • “Can you talk about your struggle to come up to this level?” (India)
  • “What is your greatest dream?” (Indonesia)
  • “Do you want to be Messi even if you are reborn?” (Japan)

(Open-end responses translated to English for China, Indonesia, Japan)

FC Barcelona and Rakuten Global Partnership

We’ve seen how soccer / football is a major sports with fans across Asia. FC Barcelona is considered one of the most favorite teams, with Messi a top favorite player.

At Rakuten AIP, we’re extremely excited to be part of the Rakuten Group, the new official partner of FC Barcelona!


Read more about it here!

■Survey Details
Markets: Age 18+ in China, India, Indonesia, Japan
Sample Size: ~300 per country
Methodology: Online Survey using Rakuten AIP proprietary panels
Timing: July 11-13, 2017
List of sports asked: American football, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Cricket, Field Hockey, Golf, Ice Hockey, Rugby, Soccer / Football, Swimming, Table Tennis / Ping pong, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Other, I’m not a fan of any sports

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