Football remains number one sport in Malta according to UEFA/MFA study

Football remains the most popular sport in Malta while the level of interest for the top domestic competitions, namely the BOV Premier League and the FA Trophy, is also strong and compares well with the figures for foreign competitions.

These findings emerge from a scientific research on attitudes towards Maltese football, carried out by Kantar Media, a leading international company specialising in research, data and insights, on behalf of the Malta FA with the backing of UEFA under the latter’s GROW programme.

The study, conducted between 8th and 29th March 2018, was based on a scientific sample of 1,008 respondents (equal numbers of men and women) in the following age-groups – 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55+.

Photo: Copyright © Andrew Grima

50% of the respondents follow football (local and/or foreign) with motor sport (8%) ranking second and athletics (6%) third.

The research shows that 74% of Malta’s male adult population played football at some point in their life and 22% still play the game.

The figures for the women’s segment are lower with 15% having played football at some stage in their life and 4% currently playing the game.

A concerning outcome from this research is that 74% of all respondents haven’t practised any sports in the last 12 months while the percentage of children who haven’t been active in sports over the past year is 45%.

Of those who currently play football, 68% replied that they take part in recreational small-sided football games outdoors followed by 11-a-side – 40%.

Another interesting finding to emerge from this study as that television remains the dominant channel for football consumption – 93% of the football enthusiasts in Malta, encompassing fans who follow the local game as well as those interested in foreign football. The European benchmark is 81%.

Chats with family and friends (43%), attending live matches (30%), and online (29%) are the next three top-ranked cohorts for football following.

Of the respondents (50% of the entire sample) who follow football, 89% are aware of the BOV Premier League with 52% interested in the competition. The statistics for the FA Trophy are 45% (interested) and 84% (aware).

These results compare well with those for the international competition with the World Cup the most followed competition among Maltese football fans (99% awareness) followed by the Champions League (98%) and Europa League (96%).

9% of the population are interested in women’s football with gymnastics, swimming and tennis next in line with a score of 3%.

The study also sheds light on the level of following for the national teams with 92% of the football fans taking part in this research claiming to be aware of the men’s national team while 59% are interested in its progress.

In the eyes of most of the fans (60%), the men’s national team ‘unites all football fans’, hence the adoption of the hashtag #UnitedForMalta for the national teams.

Asked to describe their level of support for the national team and clubs, 63% of the football fans interviewed described themselves as supporters of the national team, 62% of a club outside the home country and 44% of a local club.

Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar

Valletta FC are the most-supported club in Malta with 15% of the football fans choosing them as their favourite domestic team followed by Birkirkara (12%), Hibernians (8%) and Ħamrun Spartans (4%).

24% of the fans who are aware of the BOV Premier League have attended matches, either regularly or occasionally – 9% higher than the European benchmark.

50% of these fans follow the BOV Premier League or any of the teams on television – 11% higher than the European benchmark.

59% of the population associates the Malta FA with the national men’s football team followed by the BOV Premier League (50%), the national youth football teams (42%) and the FA Trophy and women’s national side (39%) – all these figures exceed the European benchmark.

70% of the respondents who are parents with children aged under 18 that play football believe that there are sufficient opportunities for children in Malta to maximise their footballing potential, a rise of 16% compared to a similar study carried out in 2015.