Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Italy, Short on World Cup Victories in 2014, Wins for Most Diverse Fans
World Cup

Italy, Short on World Cup Victories in 2014, Wins for Most Diverse Fans Plus, which teams have the most home-grown supporters

By Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

There are more than 190 countries in the world, but only 32 get to send teams to the World Cup. This leaves some of the world's most populous countries without a national side to cheer for during the tournament. And now, with half of those 32 teams knocked out, this raises the question: Who are these fans without a team rooting for now? And which team in the tournament has the most diverse or global following? To find out, I turned to the Facebook Graph API and collected data on the geographic location of the fans of each of the teams' Facebook pages and then calculated the Gini coefficient for each, yielding results looking like this: 

The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of inequality. While it's usually used to express the wealth inequality of a nation-state, it can be applied in many different scenarios. Given a set of frequencies (in this case, fans), this statistic provides a measure of how equally distributed the frequencies are across the possible categories. When the Gini coefficient is equal to one, all of the fans come from one country. On the other hand, a Gini coefficient of zero means that the fans are equally spread out between countries. Think of it as the distribution of the currency of fandom.

Now, to the lists. 

 

The teams with the highest Gini coefficients, and therefore the least geographically diverse fan bases: 

32. Ecuador, whose Gini coefficient is a whopping 0.97, has the most home-grown supporters. More than 91,000 of the team's 93,100 Facebook fans live in Ecuador.

31. Colombia is a close second, with a 0.96 (but, notably, only has roughly 10% the number of Facebook fans). 

30. Chile (0.95)

29. Algeria (0.95)

28. Costa Rica (0.94)

 

The teams with the lowest Gini coefficients, and therefore the most geographically diverse fan bases: 

5. England (0.68)

4. Spain (0.67) 

3. Portugal (0.67)

2. Russia (0.59)

1. Italy (0.59) 

 

What accounts for Russia's placement among those more obvious fan favorites? Refore you start looking for explanations in former Soviet states or a new Russian empire, it's worth noting that the Russian team has a meager 4,158 fans on Facebook. This is almost certainly due to the popularity among Russians of Vkontakte, the country's equivalent of Facebook.

Italy's 0.59 tells a different story. The Azzurri have a whopping 2.47 million Facebook fans. While the lion's share of those fans live in Italy, the data also shows support for the Italian team in farflung places. Fans in Indonesia, Egypt, Brazil, and Indonesia comprise almost half a million of Italy's fans. In fact, more than 20 times the number of fans in Algeria like Italy's page than like Algeria's page. 

Overall, most teams skew towards an unequal distribution of fans, as one would expect for national teams. The average Gini coefficient for all 32 teams is 0.82. The United States, with a score of 0.89, is among the more homogeneous fan bases.

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