Cristiano Ronaldo ranked 'world's most popular footballer'

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The Independent Football

Football players have been ranked according to their social media status and their fame across the social media world.

Click here or click the image to launch our guide to the world's most popular footballers., an online analytical tool which quantifies and aggregates fame levels according to social media numbers, has drawn up a list of the most “popular” stars.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been ranked the world’s most popular footballer, with Kaká and Lionel Messi completing the top three.

England internationals David Beckham (4), Wayne Rooney (6), Steven Gerrard (13) and Rio Ferdinand (14) also make the top twenty.

Premier League stars Fernando Torres (8), Cesc Fabregas (9), Didier Drogba (17) and Robin Van Persie (18) also feature.

The website assesses the number of likes, follows or views on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as taking into consideration “fan engagement” (“retweets” and comments made by footballers) by using a complicated weighting system.

Players like Ronaldo who engage with all three social media platforms are unsurprisingly catapulted up the social media hierarchy.

Ronaldo has a staggering 32 million Facebook fans, 3.7 million Twitter followers and almost five million YouTube views.

Kaká, on the other hand, has 5.3 million Twitter followers (more than any other professional footballer) but, compared to Ronaldo, has only a scanty 10.7 million Facebook fans. Messi, in contrast, has 23 million fans on the social networking site.

England stars Rooney and Ferdinand are quite some way behind in the Twitter stakes with just 1.2 million and 1.4 million followers respectively, while Gerrard has a meagre 10,000.

Famecount also explores the social media status of football clubs and suggests that Manchester United are by far and away the most popular Premier League club.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have over 18 million Facebook followers, while in comparison second-placed Arsenal have just 7.2 million and third-placed Chelsea have 6.8 million.

At the opposite end of the table, Wigan Athletic are ranked lowest, sitting in nineteenth place with just under 3,500 Facebook fans. Bolton Wanderers do not have a Facebook fans page and are subsequently not included in the list.

On the world scale, Manchester United occupy third place in social media status. The Red Devils’ attract fans from across the globe and even sit above American sports teams LA Lakers, Boston Celtics and the New York Yankees in the popularity stakes.

Real Madrid take top spot in the overall rankings with over two million Twitter followers and almost 40 million YouTube views. Bitter rivals Barcelona sit in second place with one million Twitter followers and a staggering 55 million YouTube views.

Famecount’s analysis demonstrates the growing importance of social media websites in closing the perceived gap between fans, top-level athletes and professional teams.

Nevertheless, the negative influence of social media platforms like Twitter has been well documented in recent weeks and their use by individuals in the public eye remains a controversial issue.