World Cup social media round-up


Search Labs

Global Affairs

He tweets, he scores! Twitter’s World Cup warm-up

The sweepstakes are out, the posters are up, the flags are primed. That’s right, the World Cup is just around the corner and we can’t wait for it all to kick off. With so many nationalities represented in our office, the excitement is almost at fever pitch. But just what are England’s football fans talking about? We enlisted our social media team along with some help from our friends over at Pulsar to find out.

The players

With 736 players preparing for the world’s biggest sporting spectacle, and another few hundred waiting in the wings should a compatriot suffer a last-minute injury, it’s fair to say there are plenty of reasons to get excited about this World Cup. We took a look at some of the tournament’s biggest players to see which of them were most talked about by English fans. We analysed the number of mentions of the tournament’s top players…

…and we looked at the England squad, too.

Perhaps surprisingly, Danny Welbeck is the most talked about English player in the build-up to the World Cup. With such a good goal return, Welbeck wasn’t necessarily a surprise inclusion. Still, his place on the plane has caused quite a stir for some England fans, especially after a shaky performance against Nigeria last week. Sterling wasn’t far behind – but we’ll talk about that later. On top of this, Marcus Rashford’s stunning goal at Elland Road last week means we can expect him to rise through the rankings in the coming week.

It won’t surprise anyone with even a passing interest in the beautiful game to know that Lionel Messi is by far the most talked about player in the build-up to the World Cup. After a sensational season in the Premier League and a devastating Champion’s League exit, Mo Salah is second, followed by the villain of the final, Spanish captain Sergio Ramos. Bad news for Cristiano Ronaldo though, despite his Champion’s League win, as he only comes out 10th – we can’t imagine he’ll be very happy about that.


A ball hasn’t even been kicked but there are already controversies around this World Cup. There are only 23 players in World Cup squads, so there were understandably some fans dismayed at the omission of certain players. However, the most talked about players won’t have three lions on their shirt. The biggest surprise was undoubtedly Premier League Young Player of the Year, Leroy Sané’s omission from the Germany squad. There was also shock when Argentina left Icardi out and France left both Alexandre Lacazette and Anthony Martial at home.

The biggest story of England’s World Cup preparations has undoubtedly been Raheem Sterling’s tattoo, and it’s certainly been a hot topic – especially since Twitter heavyweight Piers Morgan got involved.


We all know how negative some portions of the England fanbase can be, but just how are fans feeling about our chances this year? Well, according to Twitter, nowhere near as positive. The number of ‘happy tweets’ about England have almost halved – falling by 47% from the same period four years ago. Come on England fans! Cheer up!


To compound that, only 787 hopeful fans reckon England will win the tournament – according to positive tweets using the keywords ‘England’, ‘win’ and ‘world cup’.

The teams

So, who do English tweeters tip for the title? Well if we look at overall mentions* from the main contenders, Germany comes out on top, followed by Brazil, and then France.

We also analysed the sentiment of tweets to see for which teams England fans had a soft spot, and which they weren’t keen on. Australia had the highest percentage of positive World Cup Tweets in England with 61% of tweets being positive in sentiment. On the other end of the spectrum, a staggering 77% of tweets about the Serbian national team were negative.

Who are you most excited about seeing this World Cup? Showing your support online? Let us know on Twitter @searchlabs


In collaboration with Pulsar, Search Laboratory analysed Twitter data from 29th May to 4th June, following World Cup-related hashtags (e.g. #worldcup2018 #russia2018) to focus in on specific mentions relating to the tournament and the sentiment relating to those tweets. Player data focused on specific player name mentions (including Twitter usernames) with World Cup hashtags, country mentions related to country name mentions with World Cup hashtags. Sentiment decided by Pulsar algorithm.

*England, Russia (host nation), Costa Rica (friendly game over analysis period) and Nigeria (friendly game over analysis period) excluded from ranking.

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