I was absolutely floored the other day when I came across these amazing statistics:

46 million Africans are playing the game, day after day, week after week, a passion shared from Morocco all the way down  to South Africa!! (Source: FIFA)

Additionally the popularity of the game is only increasing, especially among youngsters, who constitute 54.7% of all registered male players and as many as 69.6% of the women. Th e greater number of young players in the women’s game is a reflection of the impressive growth in women’s football, which has also resulted in a significant increase in the number of registered amateur players (up 138% compared to 16% in the men’s game).

Why is it so popular? Well, that’s pretty simple:

- It’s easy to play
- It can be played almost anywhere (you can’t play basketball or volleyball with your friends on the beach)
- There are a lot of attractive nuances in the game (strategy, players’ abilities, luck, team spirit,  leadership, fans …)
- Kids play it and love it – perhaps this reason is the most important. It’s built into childhood and creates great memories.
- Playing it well, especially in Africa, could lead one out of poverty.

And so many Africans have crossed the seas and waded into Europe, the US and even Australia to play their hearts out for soccer leagues that have healthy funding to pay for their prowess on the field.

Every day, Africans back home fervently watch their fellow country mates  play on their televisions, clustered in homes, bars and hotels, cheering them on.

Africans by the way are hard core Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United fans. Arsenal is probably Africa’s most popular club, Man Utd dominates in southern Africa, Chelsea is gaining ground in west Africa, while Liverpool is the team most Googled.

Every week, MTN Football selects and rates the top 20 African players playing in the European Leagues (and probably most popular worldwide) according to their ongoing performance. (See below – rankings as of 27 May – 09 June 2013)

You’re also invited to rate these players according to your thoughts on their performance. Click here to do so and keep enjoying Africa’s most popular game!

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Source: MTN - http://www.mtnfootball.com

About The Author

Afritorial

Neva is a storyteller and media strategist with a background in PR, film, advertising and digital marketing who is passionate about technology, new media and the endless possibilities of the social and mobile sphere. Read more about her on our 'About Us' page.

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