British football fans have been voted the most passionate in Europe, according to a new study from UEFA Champions League sponsor Mastercard.
‘The 12th Man’ study explored how far fans will go in support of their team, be that via money spent, distance travelled, or social factors such as sacrificing relationships and when they first saw a game live.
The first question asked which fans do you perceive to be the most passionate, based on positive definitions such as atmosphere created, commitment made and dedication to away support – resulting in a comprehensive victory for British fans, as voted for by their European peers.
The nation’s love for their team sometimes comes before finding love elsewhere, as 11 per cent of Brits admit that they could not date a supporter of their football team’s rivals – calling it an ‘absolute deal-breaker’ for a prospective relationship.
A further 15 per cent would be willing to give the relationship a go, but expect their footballing differences may cause relationship problems. A more optimistic 25 per cent described dating a supporter of a rival team ‘annoying but manageable’.
Showcasing how far they will go for their beloved team, one in 10 UK football fans confessed they would cancel their honeymoon to watch their team play in the UEFA Champions League final, while 25 per cent admitted to taking unsolicited leave from work and 20 per cent said they’d miss a close friend’s birthday to attend an important game.
British fans are also amongst the youngest starters, with 36 per cent stating they became fans of their side before they were 10 years old. Within that, 10 per cent stated that they had no choice in who they supported – declaring they were fans from birth due to family connection.
The average age across Europe for first becoming a fan was calculated at just over 13 years old. Portuguese fans are the youngest starters in Europe – picking their allegiances at just over seven years old.
However, despite being willing to sacrifice relationships for football, British fans are not as willing to put hands in their pockets. When asked what the most amount of money you have ever spent on attending a football match the British average came in at £343 – significantly lower than Turkish (£608), Russian (£553), French (£475), and Spanish (£465) fans.
It was a similar story when asked what’s the longest you have ever travelled to watch a football game with the British fan averaging out at four hours and 13 minutes, almost half the time of Polish fans (8 hours 24 minutes). Only 31 per cent of Brits have been to support their team abroad – one of the lowest results in the report. When compared with Spanish fans (61 per cent) and Italian fans (56 per cent), it seems that while British support is undoubtedly passionate, it has its limits.