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Who Are The Most Popular Football Players In The World?

We all know that being voted homecoming king or queen is just a lame high school popularity contest with no implications for one’s future (say nerds like me). So which footballers in 2015 deserve a crown and the first slow dance?

This decision couldn’t be based solely on my own judgment (Ali Krieger 2016!); rather, I grabbed popularity data from the Google. Examining Google trends for the most popular players (based on search queries and published reports), Ronaldo is clearly king this year. Messi had a nice bump in June, likely due to the Copa, but it wasn’t enough to overtake CR7. The princes further include Neymar Jr, Ibrahimovic and Beckham, who remains popular despite having retired in 2013.

Men's Most Popular Footballers list, led by Ronaldo and Messi

Completing the other half of the court, Alex Morgan just BARELY edges out Hope Solo for the crown. Not surprisingly, most of the interest hovers around June and July during the Women’s World Cup. Notice the jump in Solo’s popularity during January? The media and world got pretty excited over her various off the field issues. In Solo’s case, popularity has more to do with notoriety. Carli Lloyd made the court after her stellar hat trick in the Cup final while international players Homare Sawa and Marta make a solid showing.

Women's Most Popular Footballers list, led by Alex Morgan and Hope Solo

While internet popularity of male players seems to mostly rely on the ability to score goals, Beckham’s lingering presence is largely based on his extensive time in front of cameras, his wife and now his kids. Worldwide, the popularity of female players (really all female athletes) is still strongly related to how they look. Solo is the most dominant keeper in the world, but the media prefers to report news that has little to do with her shutouts and saves. Morgan remains on top despite a lackluster Cup, while Lloyd’s world-class performance only registered a small interest. Don’t feel too badly, though. Morgan, Solo and Marta are among the highest paid female footballers in the world. Predictions for 2016: Ronaldo will keep taking his shirt off to stay on this list; Ali Krieger's body issue will give her some votes.

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