Home

Blog

Home

Blog

What is the best football league in the world? The top leagues in 2022

With the summer transfer window closed, the football season in full flow, and the UEFA Champions League set to kick off shortly, we aim to answer the all-important question - what is the best football league in the world?
Jump to section

Which is the No 1 football league in the world?

With wealthy clubs and superstar players worldwide, a few leagues can claim to be the best league in the world. Undoubtedly, because of the quality and success of clubs throughout Europe, it is no surprise that England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are considered among the best leagues in the world. For many, the English Premier League (EPL) is considered the top league.

The EPL is broadcast in over 200 countries with a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people. Spain’s La Liga (Primera División) is far behind with 300 million viewers, this is despite the popularity of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Whereas Germany’s Bundesliga is considered to be on par with its Spanish counterpart. Although Bayern Munich continues to dominate the league, its long standing highest goals-per-game average highlights how entertaining the Bundesliga can be.

Italy’s Serie A and Ligue 1 in France complete Europe’s top five leagues. The former’s status has somewhat diminished since its 1990s peak, yet Serie A continues to be competitive and attract world-class players. Whereas the latter has a polarising opinion due to Paris Saint-Germain’s (PSG) financial muscle giving them a heavy advantage above their rivals.

Other top-tier European leagues in the Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, and Greece are often included when ranking the best leagues. Outside of Europe, Brazil’s Championship Series A (Campeonato Brasileiro), and Argentina’s Primera División are influential, due to the wealth of young South American talent that has emerged from both leagues. Whereas, the Major Soccer League (MLS) in North America continues to grow in popularity, both domestically and internationally. While Liga MX is very popular in Mexico, and is growing in the United States but does not receive much coverage elsewhere.

In Asia, there are numerous strong leagues including South Korea’s K-League, the Chinese Super League, Japan’s J-League, United Arab Emirates’ Pro League, and Saudi Arabia’s Pro League. Likewise, Australia’s (and New Zealand) A-League Men is growing (A-League season preview), but major European leagues remain more popular domestically.

Which is the most supported league in the world?

Due to its worldwide reach, England’s Premier League is undoubtedly the most supported league in the world. More than 1.4 billion people consider themselves to be fans of EPL clubs, with a large following in Asian markets such as China (300 million fans) and India (147m fans).

Real Madrid European Cup
Record winners Real Madrid celebrated their 14th UEFA European Cup victory in 2022.

Which club has the most fans in the world?

Although the English Premier League is the most popular league in the world, Spain’s Real Madrid claims to be the most supported club worldwide. As the most successful team in the UEFA Champions League, the biggest club competition in the world, with 14 European Cups alongside their 35 domestic league titles, Real Madrid has attracted a large worldwide following.

La Liga rivals Barcelona could argue to claim to be the most popular club in the world. This is partly due to their success in the 2010s with players such as Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr.

The Premier League does have several popular clubs with Manchester United topping the list of popular EPL clubs. This is due to their popularity in countries such as India, and China, and various parts of Southern Africa. They are closely followed by Liverpool, who attract fans from Australia, Russia, Brazil and Northern Africa. Both clubs are the most domestically successful clubs in England.

Other Premier League clubs, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City are also popular overseas. Whereas Bayern Munich from the Bundesliga, the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain, domineering Italian club Juventus, and Ajax from the Dutch Eredivisie league make up the rest of the most supported clubs.

Manchester United vs Manchester City League Match
Manchester United and Manchester City are two of the English Premier League’s most successful.

Is the Premier League the best league?

With its global following and financial muscle, the English Premier League has to be considered the best league in the world. Not only does it include five of the most popular clubs in the world (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City), it continues to attract football stars from all corners of the globe.

This past summer saw Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez, and the Brazilian pairing of Antony and Casemiro join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohammed Salah, and Kevin de Bruyne in the Premier League. Overall, Premier League clubs spent roughly £2 billion during the 2022 summer transfer window. This is over a billion more than Serie A in Italy.

There are other factors contributing to the English Premier League’s success; its competitive nature, the quality of football, and the revenue it generates. 2021-2022 saw the EPL generate €3.5 billion in TV revenue. While overall revenue grew by 8% from £4.5 billion to £4.9 billion and is predicted to reach £6 billion this season.

Although Manchester City has won four out of the last five Premier League titles, clubs such as Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, and Manchester United continue to challenge. For fans, this makes the Premier League far more appealing compared to Ligue 1 in France or the Bundesliga in Germany, which is often dominated by one or two clubs. Whereas, Spain’s La Liga falls somewhere in between due to Atletico Madrid spoiling Real Madrid and Barcelona’s dominance in recent years.

Lionel Messi Playing in Europe
Argentina’s Lionel Messi is one of many South American players who found success in Europe.

Why Europe is considered the best quality football?

For decades, Europe has been the centre of the football world. On the international stage, five European nations have won the FIFA World Cup, with the South American trio of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, being the three other winners.

Nevertheless, Europe has long been the top-tier region for club football. The blend of popular clubs, competitive leagues, and high investment makes European football an attractive proposition for players from all corners of the world. For example, South American stars such as Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez, and Sergio Aguero made their names while playing in Europe.

Why isn’t the FIFA Club World Cup not as popular as UEFA Champions League?

Because of the quality of football throughout Europe, the UEFA Champions League (UCL) is considered the best club football competition. This is despite the existence of the FIFA Club World Cup, which brings together the winners of each confederation’s premier competition (with the host nation’s representative).

Although it involves clubs from UEFA, AFC (Asian Football Confederation), CAF (Confederation of African Football), CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football), CONMEBOL(South American Football Confederation), and OFC (Oceania Football Confederation), it is not as competitive as the UCL.

It’s no surprise that European clubs have won the FIFA Club World Cup 14 times, with Spanish clubs winning the most FIFA CWCs with 7 titles (Real Madrid – 4 and Barcelona – 3). While Brazil is the only non-European nation to have Club World Cup winners.

FIFA Club World Cup Winners

Europe

  • Spain – 7 (Real Madrid x 4 / Barcelona x 3)
  • England – 3 (Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United x 1)
  • Italy – 2 (AC Milan and Inter Milan x 2)
  • Germany – 2 (Bayern Munich x 2)

South America

  • Brazil – 4 (Corinthians x 2 / São Paulo and Internacional x 1)
Liverpool UEFA Champions League
Liverpool are England’s most successful team in the UEFA Champions League with six titles.

UEFA Champions League performance/stats

As stated previously, the UEFA Champions League is the premier club competition in the world. With its history stretching back to 1955 as the ‘European Champion Clubs’ Cup’, the competition evolved into what is now known as the UEFA Champions League in 1993. Since then, the competition has continued to get bigger and better. Initially, the European Cup was contested as a knockout tournament open only to the champions of Europe’s domestic leagues. However, the rebranding to the ‘Champions League’, saw Europe’s strongest leagues have multiple clubs involved.

While the English Premier League is considered the best league in modern football, the long history of the European Cup means English clubs haven’t always dominated. Most notably, Spanish clubs have won a record 19 European Cups with current holders, Real Madrid, being the most successful club with 14 trophies. Unsurprisingly, Barcelona is the only other Spanish club to win the European Cup with 5 titles.

England has had five different clubs hold the European Cup, with Liverpool becoming six-time winners in 2019. Their rivals, Manchester United, have three European Cups with Chelsea becoming champions in 2012 and 2021. Furthermore, English clubs dominated the European Cup in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In addition to Liverpool winning the trophy four times during this period, Nottingham Forest were back-to-back winners in 1979 and 1980, with Aston Villa winning the competition in 1982.

Outside of England and Spain, Italy and Germany are two countries that have found plenty of European Cup success, partially thanks to AC Milan and Bayern Munich. The other top European league, Ligue 1 in France, only has one European Cup winner with the Netherlands and Portugal producing more winners.

UEFA European Cup / Champions League Winners (by club)

  • 14 – Real Madrid (Spain)
  • 7 – AC Milan (Italy)
  • 6 – Bayern Munich (Germany) / Liverpool (England)
  • 5 – Barcelona (Spain)
  • 4 – Ajax (Netherlands)
  • 3 – Manchester United (England) / Inter Milan (Italy)
  • 2 – Juventus (Italy) / Chelsea (England) / Nottingham Forest (England) / Benfica (Portugal) / Porto (Portugal)
  • 1 – Celtic (Scotland) / Hamburger SV (Germany) / Borussia Dortmund (Germany) / Steaua București (Romania) / Marseille (France) / Feyenoord (Netherlands) / PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) / Red Star Belgrade (Yugoslavia)

UEFA European Cup / Champions League Winners (by country)

  • Spain – 19
  • England -14
  • Italy – 12
  • Germany – 8
  • Netherlands – 6
  • Portugal – 4
  • France – 1
  • Romania – 1
  • Scotland – 1
  • Yugoslavia – 1

5 a side football near me
(London league finder)