The FIFA Ballon d’Or, French for “Golden Ball”, is the association award given annually to the male player of the year in soccer. While it’s easy to compare Ballon d’Or nominees based on statistics and team success, we thought it would be interesting to rank them by looking at team ticket sales figures of each player’s country of origin. Based on sales data gathered by international ticket reseller Ticketbis, we’ve selected eight countries of origin of the Ballon d’Or nominees across the different European soccer clubs. We’ve selected the three best-selling teams, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Bayern Munich to determine the best-selling player of the 2013-14 season.
It should come as no surprise that arguably the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, is the best-selling player. Last year’s Ballon d’Or winner is the Forward for Real Madrid. Of all tickets purchased in Ronaldo’s home country of Portugal, 48.22% were for Real Madrid matches. Overall, Portugal accounted for only 1.55% of all tickets bought to Real Madrid matches.
Lionel Messi, the three-time Ballon d’Or winner (2010-2012), and fellow Argentine & FC Barcelona player Javier Mascherano come in second, but considerably behind Ronaldo, with 36.70% of tickets sold in Argentina for FC Barcelona matches. Overall, 1.48% of FC Barcelona tickets sold via Ticketbis were bought from Argentina.
The third best-selling player is Arjen Robben, the Midfielder for Bayern Munich, with 33.05% of sales from Netherlands for Bayern Munich matches. As a neighboring country of Germany, Netherlands accounted for 2.23% of all tickets bought to Bayern Munich matches. Karim Benzema, Forward for Real Madrid, came in fourth place with 27.52% of French sales being Real Madrid matches.
Gareth Bale, the Welsh Winger for Real Madrid, apparently isn’t catching much interest from his home country’s fans. Sales to Real Madrid matches from the UK (8.61%) are less than Barcelona (11.56%) and Bayern Munch (9.30%) sales, both of which have no British players.
While this study is an unique way of ranking Ballon d’Or players, it shows that player popularity is closely matched to player home country ticket sales, as two of the world’s best (and past Ballon d’Or winners) Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi top the list. The teams involved in the study were Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, Manchester City, Juventus, and Chelsea.