Soccer in Latin America is more than a sport. It is part of the culture and history of each country and part of the lives of its people. In the eve Copa America Centenario USA 2016, MasterCard took upon the task of understanding all that the fans do to support their teams. The results of the study commissioned by MasterCard/ – which includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru – provide interesting insights about fan passion.

According to the study, 65% of those surveyed saw at least one Copa America match in the last four years. However, what’s more surprising is all that fans are willing to do in order to not miss out on their favorite sport.  In Latin America, 35% of those surveyed would be willing to skip work or school in order to watch a game. Additionally, 70% would have no problem watching a game ‘while at work’. The survey also reveals that while more than half prefer to watch games with friends, one in five plan their game watching experience more than a week in advance!

More interesting still are the measures taken by fans to show their spirit (and do their part to win) the game: more than 50% wear a particular shirt or other garment to watch the game and almost the same percentage, 43%, actively yell at the referees (when watching from home). Others prefer more subtle methods of support: one-third of fans recommend game strategies to the television, and 22% never watch a match unless armed with their lucky charm.

Below are key highlights of the findings per country:

  • Argentinians are the most superstitious fans (17%) compared with other countries. They are highly likely to have a game day tradition (22%) or of using to have a “lucky” article of clothing (26%) – which is usually a shirt or a flag.
  • In Brazil, fans ranked highest in national pride; they are highly likely to refer to themselves as Fanatical Fans (13%), tying with Mexico in this category for the top position, or Super Fans (30%), more than other countries surveyed in this category. Brazilian soccer fans are also likely to have a flag in their yard (34%), most likely to carry a flag to a party or to a game (69%), and not leave home without your team gear on their car (31%).
  • For Chile, apparently related to the most recent championship, a resounding 86% of Chileans say Copa America is their favorite international soccer championship. Chileans are also the most likely (49%) to shout at the referee when watching a game on TV and most likely follow some sort of tradition on game day (26%).
  • The soccer fans in Colombia appear to be the most social and most festive – they prefer to watch a game with friends (57%) and are more likely to host a party to watch a match. Colombians also love to celebrate if their favorite team wins – with 43% going to the local bar and / or bringing the party to the streets (35%). In both cases, more than in any other country.
  • Being a soccer fan is serious business in Mexico: 13% admit they are Fanatical fans (tied with Brazil for the top position) and 25% feel they are Super fans. The fans in Mexico are true to their traditions, 22% follows one. Mexicans are among the most likely to watch a game at work or at school (78%), only behind Colombia, and are among the most likely to miss work or school completely (38%), only behind Peru.
  • Finally, Peru is home to one of the most committed soccer fans in Latin America. Peruvians are the most likely to miss work or school because of a major game (39%) and the most likely to miss a family event because of a party, birthday’s being the event that they would most likely skip out on.

“In Latin America and throughout the world, we believe everyone should be able to do their part to support their teams. While coaches or our favorite players may not always be aware of all the things fans do to help them win a game – there is nothing that says their traditions, passion and fervor do not influence the outcome.  Until proven otherwise, MasterCard will continue to support the passion of these fans,” concluded Edgardo Tettamanti, head of marketing for MasterCard, Latin America and Caribbean.

MasterCard commissioned a six-market survey to learn more about Latin American passions involved in watching and celebrating the game of soccer. The online survey was administered by Toluna, a global research and survey company, to 3,000 adults – 500 each in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. Interviews were conducted between May 20th and 25th, 2016, with a margin of error of +/- 5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.