FIFA World Cup Fever in the Middle East

Published Nov 17, 2022

Manisha Juneja, Research Manager at Toluna MEA

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Consumers across the GCC are ready to welcome and enjoy the first FIFA World Cup in the region.

Consumers across the GCC are ready to welcome and enjoy the first FIFA World Cup in the region.

The FIFA World Cup is not merely an international football competition, but also an emotion shared by football enthusiasts across the globe. With the 22nd edition of the World Cup being played in the Arab world for the first time, we conducted a study among football followers in UAE, KSA, and the host country, Qatar, to gauge their sentiments ahead of the competition.

Overall, more than three in four FIFA World Cup followers expressed that they are ‘extremely excited’ about this year’s tournament, and they are exhilarated that the event is taking place in the Middle East—with the highest level of enthusiasm found among Qataris. More than 90% of fans believe that the event will promote ‘football as a sport’ in the Middle East region.

When it comes to viewing habits, the vast majority of Middle Eastern football fans are planning to watch ‘full matches’ on either their TV or smartphone/tablet. Among those planning to watch matches on TV, 70% intend to watch ‘more matches than in previous World Cups,’ highlighting their enormous passion for the sport. Accordingly, TV advertising could potentially provide higher ROI to brands.

In addition to cheering on their national teams, Middle Eastern football lovers will be showing massive support for the popular teams of Brazil and Argentina. About 87% say they are glad that FIFA World Cup is happening at ‘this time of the year,’ considering that it is usually held in summer. They believe the pleasant weather in the Middle East during the months of November and December will make attending the tournament ‘an enjoyable experience’ for football enthusiasts travelling to Qatar from all over the world!

The results of the study are clear: fan engagement for the FIFA World Cup is monumental in the Middle East. They are well aware of the Middle Eastern teams who will be participating in the tournament, and they’re exhibiting high awareness of what’s going on off the pitch, too. For example, they are familiar with many of the event sponsors, such as Qatar Airways, Coca Cola, VISA, Adidas, McDonald’s, and Hyundai, among others.

Furthermore, 72% know that Qatar aims to be the first country to host a ‘carbon neutral’ FIFA World Cup event. While organizing such a large-scale event with net-zero carbon dioxide emissions seems quite hard to believe, it is interesting to note that more than half of the Middle Eastern football followers find this claim ‘totally credible’ and they are confident that Qatar will be successful in achieving this goal. In fact, they admire that the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup is going to be carbon neutral, as sustainability is very important to them.

Despite the fact that some Middle Eastern football followers are concerned about the rising ‘cost of living’ in the region, two-thirds say they plan to spend ‘as much or more than they did for previous World Cups’ on going out and socializing with family/friends while watching this World Cup.

Overall, it is evident that Middle Eastern football fans can’t wait for the tournament to begin, and they are thrilled that this edition of FIFA World Cup is taking place in this part of the world. They are proud that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be carbon neutral, and the rising cost of living won’t suppress the fever raging amongst football lovers in the Middle East.

Download the full report here.

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