The beautiful game is the most dominant sport on the planet. Often, it can be hard to pinpoint how many people watch a game owing to the sheer volume of worldwide viewers watching via many different methods.
In this article, we’ve worked strictly from reported and verified figures to bring together the most watched football matches of all time.
#6 Champions League Final 2018
Real Madrid vs Liverpool
Gareth Bale cemented his legacy at the Bernabeu after this commanding victory over the English club. An outrageous overhead kick and a catastrophic mistake by the Liverpool goalkeeper meant that the iconic Welshman scored two decisive goals for Europe’s most successful club.
After coming off the bench, there was a hive of activity for the Welshman to score in in-play gambling markets.
Viewing figures were believed to be between 400 and half a billion people, making it the most-watched European club football match of all time, with some of the UK’s best betting sites seeing a surge of activity on in-play betting markets driven by the record-breaking viewership.
It would become a day to forget for Loris Karius and a day of pure joy for Gareth Bale, defining both of their careers.
#5 2006 World Cup Final
France vs Italy
It’s believed that around 700 million people tuned in to watch the final unfold between France and Italy, which was marred by a moment of madness from the midfield maestro Zinedine Zidane.
The World Cup Final is often the most watched game, for obvious reasons. It doesn’t focus on European club football, but it is something that the whole world sits up and takes notice of, even casual supporters.
The game finished 0−0 after extra time, with the Italians winning in the penalty shootout.
#4 2010 World Cup Final
Spain vs Netherlands
An Andres Iniesta goal in the final few minutes of extra time settled the game and cemented Spain’s golden generation as one of the finest squads of players that have ever existed in football. Despite initial concerns about South Africa’s ability to properly host and facilitate the tournament, it was considered a resounding success, with viewing figures clocking in at around 900 million.
#3 2014 World Cup Final
Germany vs Argentina
It looks like we’re developing a bit of a pattern here, but the growing nature of each World Cup Final breaking the previous record is down to several societal factors.
Televisions, the Internet, mobile phones, and tablets were all becoming more accessible globally, bringing in more significant numbers of people who may not have been able to watch live games just a few years earlier.
The 2014 final between Germany and Argentina was tense, with Germany nicking it 1−0. With an estimated 1 billion views, it makes the game the third most-watched football match of all time.
#2 2018 World Cup Final
France vs Croatia
That’s right, four years later, the record was broken again, and this time, the final was much more entertaining for the neutral.
A litany of the world’s highest-paid players today, such as Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, and N'golo Kante, all showed their elite status in the game, helping France lift their first World Cup in 20 years, and an astonishing 1.12 billion people watched the game right across the globe.
#1 2022 World Cup Final
Argentina vs France
Lionel Messi completed his destiny when he crowned himself as the finest footballer of his generation, finally getting his hands on football’s greatest trophy at age 35.
Many believed the Argentine may never have his moment on the international stage, having come so close in 2014.
However, he showed that class is permanent, winning player of the tournament, scoring two goals in the final, and lifting Argentina’s first World Cup since 1986⎯since the days of the formidable and unparalleled Diego Maradona.
1.5 billion people watched the 2022 World Cup Final, and it’s only fitting that it’s the most-watched World Cup Final ever, considering it is arguably the most incredible game to decide the outcome of the tournament.
A player rarely scores a hat-trick in a game and gets outshone, especially not in a WC Final. Still, that unfortunate achievement fell to Kylian Mbappe, who seemed to do everything possible to get his nation over the finish line and defend their Jules Rimet trophy.
However, it seemed as though the magic that followed meant that it was written in the stars for the most significant audience to watch one of the greatest players of all time have his moment at the top of the mountain.