BLOG | by Frank Saez

Football dominates UAE Prestige League – but no sign of Olympics

This year, YouGov Sport is an official partner of the Sport Business Summit, organised by Leaders in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. To mark our support for one of the region’s most prestigious events, we thought we’d investigate what the UAE perceives to be the world’s most prestigious sporting properties.

Using the data we collect daily from the UAE public as part of our SportsIndex service, we have ranked the top ten foreign/international (ie non-domestic) properties for prestige.

Given the UAE’s appetite for football, (44% of the population follow the sport) it’s no surprise to see soccer dominate the ranking – football properties make up five of our top ten. But it’s the FIFA World Cup which takes the top spot, with almost half of respondents telling us that they view the tournament as prestigious.

Perhaps what is surprising is that neither the Winter nor the Summer Olympic Games feature in the top ten. Even in a fallow year for the Olympics – like the one we’ve just had – it’s unusual for a Games not to feature in a top ten prestige ranking like this. If the country builds on its two medals so far in Japan this year, maybe we’ll see the Summer Games creep in.

Anyway, back to our current rankings. Formula 1 splits up the soccer pack, coming second in the table, but it’s closely followed by the FIFA Club World Cup which scores just a few points fewer. The Club World Cup was hosted by the UAE in 2017 and 2018 and, as we discuss in a recent blog, it looks to have left a real impression on the country.

Cricket is the third sport represented, with the ICC Cricket World Cup ranked as the sixth most prestigious event in world sport. The ICC’s World Twenty20 tournament gives cricket a second berth in the rankings, coming in at eighth position.

Given that cricket is the UAE’s second favourite sport (32.3% of residents follow the sport), we might have expected to see cricket further up our prestige rankings, but being able to witness world-class events like the FIFA Club World Cup and the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix first-hand seems to have given these sports a lustre in the eyes of the UAE public which cricket can’t yet match.

Wimbledon and the NBA appear in ninth and tenth positions respectively to finish off our list. With five different sports represented across the top ten, our prestige league reflects a rounded interest in sports in the UAE.

If you’re at the Sport Business Summit representing any one of them – or those who didn’t feature – feel free to get in touch to discuss our findings more.

BLOG | by Frank Saez

Managing Director and Founder of YouGov Sport

Recognised by his peers as one of the foremost practitioners in global sports business analysis and research, Frank has over 20 years international experience, working with some of the world’s leading sports rights holders and sponsors.