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Twitter reveals spread of SA’s Premier League passions

A new service allows fans of English Premier League teams to see how they stack up against rivals by following their teams on Twitter.

Twitter has launched a Premier League follower map that allows football fans to see a detailed global breakdown of the Twitter followers of all 20 English Premier League soccer clubs.

The map was created by looking at the official Twitter accounts for each team, and using their followers as an indicator of allegiance. Fans can discover at a glance which teams dominate each country around the world.

Users can toggle the map to view specifically their own club’s support worldwide: see the most popular clubs overall: and compare their club with a rival. By using the ‘Zoom to’ function, they can pinpoint any country around the world instantly.

Southern Africa findings revealed the following about the followings:

South Africa

Close race for the lead:

The race for first place in the South African map is close. Leading the field is Manchester United (@ManUtd – red) with 23.14%. Arsenal (@Arsenal – yellow) holds second place with 20.60% and Chelsea (@ChelseaFC – blue) clinches third spot with 17.83%. The followers are spread across the country with clusters of fans in the Western Cape and Gauteng. Given the success of these clubs it is no wonder that they are coming out on top.

@ManUtd take main cities

Manchester United have a stronghold in the major cities such as Durban, Johannesburg and Cape town as shown by the blue spread edging out the other clubs by quite a margin. @Arsenal do have a wide spread across the country with @ChelseaFC and @spursOfficial hardly featuring.

What our neighbours think:

Interestingly South Africa’s neighbours don’t all agree on popularity. @ManUtd still places first in both Botswana and Namibia followed by @Arsenal and @ChelseaFC respectively. However, in Zimbabwe @ChelseaFC takes second place away from @Arsenal with @ManUtd retaining first place. What is surprising is that in Mozambique, first place belongs to Chelsea (25.18%) followed by Arsenal (22.08%) and Manchester United only managing third place (20.58%).

Out of Africa:

@Arsenal carry their European form into Northern Africa with Morocco, in particular, hugely pro-Arsene Wenger’s team. Could that be in any way linked to long-departed former Gunner Marouane Chamakh?

@ChelseaFC, meanwhile, have a stronghold in Ivory Coast, the home of Blues legend Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba).


The European divide:

It’s a tale of two London clubs in Europe, with @Arsenal generally owning the northern European countries, while @ChelseaFC presiding in the south. This may be down to the pull of certain high profile individuals, past and present:

— Freddie Ljungberg (@Freddie) – Sweden and Arsenal

— Arsene Wenger and Thierry Henry (@ThierryHenry) – France and Arsenal

— Mesut Ozil (@MezutOzil1088) and Per Mertesacker (@Mertesacker) – Germany and Arsenal

— Robin Van Persie (@Persie_Official) and Dennis Bergkamp – Holland and Arsenal

— Jose Mourinho – Portugal and Chelsea

— Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo – Italy and Chelsea

— Diego Costa (@DiegoCosta) and Cesc Fabregas (@cesc4official) – Spain and Chelsea

Player Power:

In many countries, Premier League allegiance appears to be dictated, at least in part, by the presence of local players. That’s evident for Suarez and Sanchez in Uruguay and Chile, and also for Edin Dzeko (@EdDzeko) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who seemingly accounts for a rare first place finish for Man City in that country.

Other notable observations that could explain these player/country trends include:

— Ki Sung-yueng – Swansea/South Korea

— Gylfi Sigurdsson – Swansea/Iceland

— Enner Valencia (@ennervalencia14) – West Ham/Ecuador

— Samuel Eto’o (@setoo9) – Everton/Cameroon

— Asmir Begovic (@asmir1) – Stoke/Bosnia and Herzegovina

Off the pitch:

It’s not just about the players though. Other club factors seem to have a bearing on follower numbers in certain regions:

— @Arsenal break @Chelsea’s dominance in the Middle East by edging ahead in United Arab Emirates, which is home to their stadium sponsors Emirates Airline.

— @QPRFC hugely outperform their average Twitter follower ranking in Malaysia, where they are seventh. Why? The answer may lie with Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, who is the club chairman.

— Last word goes – as it often does in the football world – to Roman Abramovich, whose influence at @ChelseaFC may account for the club’s pre-eminence across Russia and the former Soviet countries.

* To explore the map, go to and use password twitter#interactive

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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