How Does Football Fan Attendance Compare To Horse Racing?

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Football is the most popular sport in the world in terms of fan base. There is an estimate of 3.5 billion football fans all over the world which proves that it is a dominant force in the world of sports.

On the other hand, we have horse racing, which might have a longer history than football, but it is less popular. According to analytics, there are an estimated 1.45 billion people worldwide who are interested in watching horse racing events.

So, if we take this number alone, we can see that football is significantly more popular than horse racing. But when it comes to match or race attendance, the situation is different.

In today’s article, we will take a look at which sport attracts more people, football or horse racing.

Football Fever

Obviously, football has more fans that attend matches annually due to the higher number of top-tier games compared to horse racing. Football stadiums are full every weekend or during the week for the Champions League, although they might have a lower capacity than some of the most popular horse racing events like the Kentucky Derby.

The biggest football stadium in the world in terms of capacity is Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, which is located in Pyongyang, North Korea, and has a capacity of 114,000. To be honest, since the stadium is off-limits to all foreigners, we assume that most of the time is empty. After all, North Korea doesn’t have a strong football league, at least not compared to Europe.

But let’s take a stadium more measurable and imaginative. Camp Nou is also one of the largest stadiums in the world with a capacity of 99,354.

So, it is rare almost impossible to see a football match with over 100,000 spectators.

Key Facts:

  • The average attendance for top European football leagues ranges from 40,000 to over 80,000 spectators per match.

  • Major football events like the UEFA Champions League final and FIFA World Cup attract millions of viewers both in stadiums and through television broadcasts.

  • Football fan culture includes passionate supporters' groups, pre-match rituals, and post-match celebrations, creating a sense of community and belonging among fans.

Racing Thrills

On the other hand, we have horse racing. This is a sport with fewer events but some of their most popular like the Kentucky Derby attracts way more fans than football.

If we take the Kentucky Derby for example, which is one of the most popular horse races in the world we can see a record-peak attendance in 2015 which climbed to 170,000. That’s way more than football matches.

However, the Kentucky Derby happens once every year, and it is much more than just a horse race. People attend the Derby not just because they are passionate about the sport, but also for networking, mixing with high-class people, and fashion. That’s why most people cannot wait to browse through the Kentucky Derby probables before the event.

But in reality, there are only a few horse racing events like the Kentucky Derby that can attract so many fans. Most other horse racing events get a couple of thousand attendees.

Key Facts:

  • Horse racing events attract varying crowd sizes, from a few thousand to over a hundred thousand attendees for prestigious races like the Kentucky Derby.

  • The atmosphere at racecourses is a mix of excitement and elegance, with spectators dressed in their finest attire, enjoying a day of thrilling races and social gatherings.

  • Horse racing fan culture includes handicapping, wagering, and traditions like mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby, adding layers of excitement to the experience.

Comparing Numbers

While both football and horse racing have large followings, attendance figures vary depending on stadium capacity, event significance, and worldwide appeal.

Football Attendance:

Top football leagues like the English Premier League and La Liga often fill their stadiums to capacity, with average attendances exceeding 50,000 for popular teams.

International tournaments like the UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup attract millions of fans to host countries, showcasing the sport's global reach.

Horse Racing Attendance:

Major horse racing events such as the Kentucky Derby and Royal Ascot can draw crowds of over 100,000 spectators, creating a festival-like atmosphere.

Regular race days at prominent tracks see attendance figures ranging from a few thousand to tens of thousands, depending on the racing schedule and local fan base.

Final Words

So, in terms of the total number of fans that attend these sports annually, Football is way ahead.

In football, the attendance levels are way more constant, and there are many popular football matches throughout the year that attract large masses

However, horse racing events (the popular ones) manage to attract a larger audience for a single event. This is probably because of the higher venue capacity and broader interests.

Either way, it is safe to assume that both sports are quite popular and they share a global audience coming from all over the world.