The Country with the Most Hardcore Fans In the Euros: Portugal

UPDATE: 7/10/16
Portugal fans win hands down as the most devoted in the Euros. We saw a steady upward trend starting at the quarter finals to the highest drop in internet usage in any game at the finals against France. Parabéns Portugal!

Finals

Date                          Time                       Team         % of Traffic Change             Team             % of Traffic Change

Wed, Jul 10 20:00 Portugal -60% (W) France -39.9%

UPDATE: 7/8/16

Just one more game left in the finals: Portugal vs France. But there have been lots of winners in Euro 2016. Iceland making the quarters by beating England, and being welcomed home in Reykjavic by 10% of their country. Wales, playing in its first ever Euros, making it all the way to the semis. Ireland’s last minute win over Italy to put them into the second round, sending Dublin into bedlam (I was drinking a pint in a Dublin pub at that moment, and it was crazy).

But we have our own fan awards to hand out. When we started this back in June, we wanted to find the most dedicated fans, measured by how they put away their smart phones, tablets and computers at kickoff. In the spirit of expansiveness, we have three categories of competition in our #EuroFanDuel. The fans with the most wins goes to Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany and Hungary fans. The fans of Hungary had the biggest overall drop in traffic, followed by Germany and Austria. Consistency, so important in any sport, goes to the fans of Hungary, who averaged a drop of -29.7% during the Euros.

All the results are below. We’ll make a final update on Monday after the final, to see if it affects anything…

Belgium 4
Croatia 4
France 4
Germany 4
Hungary 4
Portugal 4
Albania 3
Ukraine 3
Austria 2
Italy 2
Russia 2
Czech Rep. 1
Iceland 1
N. Ireland 1
Rep. of Ireland 1
Romania 1
Slovakia 1
Spain 1
Wales 1
England 0
Poland 0
Sweden 0
Switzerland 0
Turkey 0

Top Five Countries with the Biggest Internet Usage Drop

Country                                                    % Drop

Hungary  -59.3%  -27.7%
Germany  -52.2%
Austria  -49.1%
N. Ireland 28.4%

Top Five Countries with the Biggest Average Internet Usage Drop 

Country                                         % Drop

Hungary  -59.3%
Germany  -52.2%
Austria  -49.1%
N. Ireland -28.4%

Semi Finals

Three weeks have flown by and we’re almost to the finals. A lot has been written about the fans at Euro 2016. The Icelandic “Huh!”.  The French affection for the bonhomie of the Irish fans. The, uh, flare up of the Croatian crowd, and the activities of the Russian ultras.  But we’ve focused our attention to the online behavior of European soccer lovers… Portugal’s fans have remained strong online and posted another win on Wednesday. Fans of Les Bleues carried the day, maintaining their perfect record since the second round.

Date                          Time                       Team         % of Traffic Change             Team             % of Traffic Change

Hungary -29.7%
Ukraine -21.5%
Austria -18.3%
Germany -14.6%
France -13.0%

UPDATE 7/5/16: Quarter Final Wrap

As we approach the penultimate round of the Euros, we are seeing a stronger correlation between fan interest and team success. In the four games through the weekend, fans dropping off web use during game time was consistent for three out of the four wins on the field. See our table below. The only fly in the ointment was Belgium, whose fans came through even though the team did not. (Maybe Hal Robson-Kanu was the fly in the ointment.) This is most likely the result of our limitation in measuring Wales separately (the ISO standard lumps it in with all of Great Britain). Or maybe folks in Wales were more concerned about Brexit.

Quarter Finals

Date                          Time                       Team         % of Traffic Change             Team             % of Traffic Change

Thu, Jun 30 20:00 Poland -9.2% Portugal -14.6% (W)
Fri, Jul 1 20:00 Wales 15.4% Belgium -0.9% (W)
Sat, Jul 2 20:00 Germany -18.6% (W) Italy -15.1%
Sun, Jul 3 20:00 France -11.0% (W) Iceland -6.2%

UPDATE 6/29/16: Round of 16 Roundup

English Beaten Off the Field, Too – Perhaps the English were too sanguine against tiny Iceland, or afraid to watch. More Icelanders stayed offline (-2.4%) while English use of the web increased 9.6% over average during game time.

The New Italy More Popular — The new aggressive, attacking style of the Italians was matched by the ardor of their fans. Use of the web in Italy declined 15.9% while traffic in Spain increased 3.7%.

French Fans Rout Irish – Despite the affection the French have had for Irish fans, it was no contest on Sunday online. Web use in France declined 23.3% compared to a slight increase for the Irish of 0.4%. Overall, the French viewers averaged an 8.3% decline during the group stage. The Irish saw an 11.3% increase during the group stage, though their crucial game against Italy saw a 2.9% decline.

Die Mannschaft Fans Rule – Another strong match for German fans. The Germans (-15.3%) edged the Slovaks (-10.4%), continuing one of the best averages of any team’s fans during the group stage at -15.6%

Other Games:

  • Almost a tie online between Belgium (-7.3%) vs. Hungary (-8%), though the game was lopsided on the field.
  • Drawn by the web – In accordance with the ISO 3166-2 country code standard, a single entry (GB) is used to define England, Northern Ireland and Wales. In the context of our study, this means that any match involving two of these three teams would always result in a draw.
  • Croatia vs. Portugal – What to make of Croatian fans? Throwing flares onto the field when their team is ahead? Better behaved vs. Portugal, even the mass support outside the stadium wasn’t enough. Croatia won the fan battle, but lost the game.

Round of 16

Date                          Time                       Team         % of Traffic Change             Team             % of Traffic Change

Sat, Jun 25 14:00 Switzerland 20.8% (W) Poland 43.7%
Sat, Jun 25 17:00 Wales 24.1%* N. Ireland 24.1%*
Sat, Jun 25 20:00 Croatia 7.4% (W) Portugal 22.5%
Sun, Jun 26 14:00 France -23.3% (W) Rep. of Ireland 0.4%
Sun, Jun 26 17:00 Germany -15.3% (W) Slovakia -10.4%
Sun, Jun 26 20:00 Hungary -8.0% (W) Belgium -7.3%
Mon, Jun 27 17:00 Italy -15.9% (W) Spain 3.7%
Mon, Jun 27 20:00 England 9.6% Iceland -2.4% (W)

UPDATE 06/15/16:

The first round is over and the action has been intense on the pitch. So, how have our stay-at-home fans fared? Well, some of the results surprised us.

As we suspected, the French fans won the opener, -19% to -12%. (Remember, the bigger the drop, the more people likely watching television than surfing Le Facebook.) With all the excitation surrounding Les Bleus, it’s likely more casual fans were viewing.

We also found that big underdogs (mostly) win. We expected, for example, the Germans, known for their fusbal fervor, to dominate, but embattled Ukrainian fans carried the day. Looking for a pattern, we noticed that when there is a 14+ place difference in the FIFA team rankings, lower-ranked teams won the fan battle most of the time. Perhaps higher-ranked team fans assume a win and don’t need to tune in, while underdog fans root harder. This holds true for Albania (42) vs. Switzerland (15); Russia (29) vs. England (11); Germany (4) vs. Ukraine (19); and Austria (10) vs. Hungary (20). Spain (6) vs. Czech (30) and Portugal (8) vs. Iceland (34) ruined it. Our data sample from Iceland was small possibly affecting the results. Perhaps La Roja fans are more fearful of the Czechs, or are pulling for a third straight victory. (What’s Spanish for “three-peat”?)

We’ll continue to follow the games and see where our data takes us. Maybe just like the sport itself, the game is beautiful, but the results can be a little unpredictable.


The UEFA European Championship, better known as the Euros, kicks off this Friday in Paris at the Stade de France. Started in 1960, the quadrennial competition is second only to the World Cup when it comes to size and fan fervor.

A number of us on the Incapsula team at Imperva spend far too much of our spare time watching soccer, and we mused about combining our love of the sport with our day job. Specifically we wondered: Will the Euros keep people off the web? Since the Imperva Incapsula network handles over 12 million requests every minute, and serves tens of millions of users throughout Europe, we’re in a perfect position to observe.

Two days from now, when the hometown favorites Les Bleues go up against Romania (the Tricolori), how many French and Romanians will watch the match on television? Will more French or Romanians tune in? Which country has the most ardent fans? And what about the Swiss and the Albanians? Their match is next up. Who will watch and who won’t?

To answer these questions, we’re going to take a closer look at the internet traffic of all 24 competing countries. Game by game, we’ll report back on which of the competitors saw a bigger drop-off in web traffic during game time. In this way we’ll see who has the more dedicated fans, and who are willing to let go of their digital devices when their team takes the pitch.

So whose fans are the most hard core? Can 46 million Spaniards push La Roja to a repeat? Will the World Cup fervor of Die Mannschaft fans rise again? Can the guarded optimism the English transmit propel the Three Lions to their first victory? We’ll be publishing results by noon GMT the day following the matches. Check back here, or follow us on Twitter with #EuroFanDuel, to find out. Allez!

Group Stage

Date                          Time                       Team         % of Traffic Change             Team             % of Traffic Change

Fri, Jun 10 20:00 France -19% (W) Romania -12%
Sat, Jun 11 14:00 Albania -12% (W) Switzerland 87%
15:00 Wales 20.1% Slovakia 19.4% (W)
20:00 England 11% Russia 3.8% (W)
Sun, Jun 12 14:00 Turkey 13.4% Croatia -10.9% (W)
17:00 Poland 30.1% N. Ireland 28.4% (W)
20:00 Germany 18.2% Ukraine -0.4% (W)
Mon, Jun 13 14:00 Spain 1.2% (W) Czech Rep. 45.5%
17:00 Rep. of Ireland 8.3% (W) Sweden 23.5%
14:00 Belgium 0.6% (W) Italy 2.4%
Tue, Jun 14 17:00 Austria +4.6% Hungary -15.0% (W)
20:00 Portugal -19.6% (W) Iceland -14.0%
Wed, Jun 15 14:00 Russia 12.6% (W) Slovakia 23.8%
17:00 Romania 3.0%(W) Switzerland 24.7%
20:00 France -8.7% Albania -22.6%(W)
Thu, Jun 16 14:00 England 7.6%* Wales 7.6%*
17:00 Ukraine -9.3% (W) N. Ireland 19.2%
20:00 Germany -12.8% (W) Poland -0.5%
Fri, Jun 17 14:00 Italy 11.0% (W) Sweden 46.6%
17:00 Czech Rep. 16.2% Croatia -16.4% (W)
20:00 Spain 4.6% Turkey 36.5%
Sat, Jun 18 14:00 Belgium 20.5% (W) Rep. of Ireland 28.5%
17:00 Iceland -1.7% Hungary -21.7% (W)
20:00 Portugal -22.7% (W) Austria 12.5%
Sun, Jun 19 20:00 Romania 34.2% Albania 10.2% (W)
20:00 Switzerland 104.9% France 2.8% (W)
Mon, Jun 20 20:00 Russia 33.5% Wales 13.7% (W)
20:00 Slovakia 31.5% England 13.7% (W)
Tue, Jun 21 17:00 Ukraine -54.7% (W) Poland -43.7%
17:00 N. Ireland -31.7% Germany -52.2% (W)
20:00 Czech Rep. -24.2% (W) Turkey 3.4%
20:00 Croatia -23.4% (W) Spain -18.3%
Wed, Jun 22 17:00 Iceland -22.0% Austria -49.1% (W)
17:00 Hungary -59.3% (W) Portugal 7.2%
20:00 Italy -25.0% (W) Rep.of Ireland -2.9%
20:00 Sweden 6.5% Belgium -18.4% (W)

* In accordance with the ISO 3166-2 standard, a single entry (GB) is used to define England, Northern Ireland and Wales. In the context of our study, this means that any match involving two of these three teams would always result in a draw.

Methodology

This data was derived by comparing the number of sessions to the Incapsula content delivery network (CDN) at the time of the game, with the average number of sessions at the same time and day of the week from May 20, 2016 to June 8, 2016.

For added research integrity, the analysis only surveyed legitimate human traffic, precluding all sessions generated by web bots or sessions blocked by Incapsula security solutions (e.g., manual hacking attempts or DDoS attack traffic). On average, legitimate human traffic to Incapsula CDN from countries participating in UEFA matches amounts to over 1.01 million sessions per hour.

The classification of users by their country of origin was done in accordance with the conventions of the ISO 3166-1—a universally accepted standard for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest.

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