World Cup players have no doubt been playing the football game with all their might over the last few weeks. But how well are they playing the social media game? The New York Times made it easy to tell by posting an infographic depicting the popularity of World Cup players on Facebook during each day of the tournament.
Popularity, meaning “mentions” on the site in this case, translates to size with the most popular players shown with a larger picture and the less popular ones with a smaller picture. The pictures are all cropped action shots and it almost looks like they are playing one big game together.
Now of course, some of these players’ profiles shot up in popularity on a particular day due to a winning game, a goal scored or blocked, or a phenomenal play. For example, England’s scoreless draw against Algeria on June 18 brought their star player to the top of the list, Also, members of teams that were playing on that particular day often scored lots of status mentions.
Sometimes players who made bad plays found themselves most popular. Robert Green, England’s goalie, was the number one most mentioned player on Facebook on June 12, the day he famously mishandled a shot from the United States resulting in a goal for the other team. The play was so widely publicized that Green remained the number one mention for the next two days and stayed in the top ten for the next few days after that. Brazil’s Kaka’s receipt of a red card on June 20 made him most talked about that day.
It is interesting to note, however, that some players remained popular throughout the tournament regardless of how or when they played. These “celebrities” of soccer included Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal, Lionel Messi of Argentina, and Siphiwe Tshabalala of South Africa, who was the first player to score during the 2010 World Cup. It also seems clear that some teams were always talked about (Portugal, Brazil, England) while others were almost never mentioned (France, Mexico).
The infographic lets you sort by either country, the player’s last name, or by Facebook mentions. It’s a really cool little tool that makes the data so much more visible than if it were just numbers. You can check it out here.