A wide-scale survey launched by FIFA last summer indicates that over 240 million people regularly play football around the world, along with almost five million referees, assistant referees and officials who are also directly involved in the game.
Apart from the revelation that there are over 240 million active footballers - one in every twenty-five of the world's population - a fact which on its own corroborates football's position as the number one sport in the world - there are several other salient facts:
in the Americas and in Europe the proportion of people who participate in football is substantially higher than in other parts of the world where are still huge resources of potential players;
without counting children and the occasional player, the records reveal that the following countries have the highest proportion of participants in the game: USA (well nigh 18 million), Indonesia (10 million), PR China (7.2 million), Mexico (7.4 million), Brazil (7 million) and Germany (6.3 million).
there are over 20 million women footballers, 80% of whom are juniors or still in their teens, which demonstrates that the growing popularity for women's football is not only the prerogative of North America.
football is played worldwide by more than 1.5 million teams and in 300,000 clubs; the majority of people, however, play outside of the officially organised sphere.
In what is colloquially known as the BIG COUNT survey, FIFA enquired among all 204 member national associations and almost 80% of them, including all the major associations, responded.
The results were attained, consolidated and completed by scientific statistical methods. Evaluations and information gleaned from other inquiries were integrated into the survey.