The world of sports in 2017… According to Twitter

Timothy Wee Timothy Wee

With 2017 fast becoming history, FOX Sports Asia combs through the Twitter grapevine to bring you the sporting lowdown for the year.

As you can probably guess, we are big fans of Twitter.

ICYMI, we celebrated the birth of their new 280-character limit and even held our very own Formula 1 social media championships!

Obviously, we are not the only Twitter users out there.

Therefore, we put our ear to the Twitterverse’s ground to find out what sports fans worldwide have been saying in 2017.


Globally, it would seem that football is THE sport that unites the world.

Six out of the ten top sports hashtags are dominated by football – with Real Madrid fans responsible for not one, but two trending sports hashtags (#halamadrid and #realmadrid).

Manchester United (#mufc) and Liverpool (#lfc) are the other footballing clubs that make the list. And it seems we are not the only ones crazy about Champions League action (#ucl) too!

Besides football, the other top trending hashtags includes wrestling (#wwe), baseball (#mlb) and American football (#patriots and #superbowl).

However, Real fans will be disappointed to learn that they still lag behind United in the top five sports teams.

The Red Devils flexed their global brand power to top the list and leave English rivals Arsenal and Chelsea far behind. Real managed a respectable second place.

The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers rounds off the list.

While United may be the most supported team in the world, it is a Madridista who takes the crown of being 2017’s top sports personality – who else but yours truly Cristiano Ronaldo (CR7). The world most expensive footballer, Neymar Jr is the only other footballer that makes the cut.

King of the basketball court, LeBron James had to make do with second place while Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry also makes the cut. Their fellow compatriot, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick joins them as well.

Last, but not least, UFC’s Conor “The Notorious” McGregor completes the list to highlight what a year 2017 has been for the Irish MMA fighter.


Diving straight into the heart of Asia, Singapore reaffirms the global appeal of football – particularly the EPL. Five of the top six sports related accounts includes English clubs United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Wrestling, or the WWE, seems to have a special place in the little red dot, and is the only other sports represented.

Top Sports Related Handles (SG)
1. Manchester United (@ManUtd)
2. Arsenal FC (@Arsenal)
3. Premier League (@premierleague)
4. Liverpool FC (@LFC)
5. World Wrestling Entertainment [WWE] (@WWE)
6. Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC)

The EPL continues to have a hold on Singaporeans’ heart with United establishing itself as the top sporting team. Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur follow the Red Devils on the list.

Besides the EPL clubs, La Liga’s Barcelona and Real can also boast having a strong following in the island country.

Top Sporting Teams (SG)
1. Manchester United (@ManUtd)
2. Arsenal FC (@Arsenal)
3. Liverpool FC (@LFC)
4. Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC)
5. Manchester City (@ManCity)
6. FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona)
7. Real Madrid (@realmadriden)
8. Tottenham Hotspur FC (@SpursOfficial)

Surprisingly, Singaporeans love Wayne Rooney a lot as the ex-United, and current Everton, striker was the most mentioned sportsman, in front of our beloved CR7 (an ex-United alumni himself).

There is clearly a lot of love for United with current players Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, David de Gea, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all forming part of the local chatter.

MMA brawler Conor McGregor and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton were also on local lips with the Irish fighter’s money fight with Floyd Mayweather and the Brit Mercedes driver’s F1 crown win being the key highlights for 2017.


Over in Indonesia, the Twitterverse heated up over the tragic death of Persela Lamongan’s legendary goalkeeper and captain Choirul Huda. His club’s tweet has become the most retweeted tweet in 2017 and prompted well wishes from Pogba and FIFA!

The strong support for local football continues in the world fourth biggest country in 2017 as local clubs Persib (#PersibDay), Persija (#PersijaDay) and the national team (#TimnasDay) make up the top three top sports hashtags.

Indonesians were also out in full force to honor their fellow compatriots such as the fallen Huda – making him the top sports personality for 2017.

Football remains the main sport that draws in the local crowds with five other local footballers making up the top ten sports personalities. They are Irfan Bachdim, Bambang Pamungkas, Evan Dimas, Kim Kurniawan and Egy Maulana.

Olympic gold medallists and mixed badminton doubles pair Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad also make the top ten after their historic win last year, together with fellow shuttler Jonatan Christie and Rio Haryanto, the nation’s first and only F1 driver.


It is a different story in Philippines as basketball reigns supreme. With the NBA finals (#NBAFinals) being the top sports hashtag, it is clear that the Filipinos have a soft spot for all things b-ball.

On top of that, the national basketball league (#PBAFinals and #UAAPSeason80) and several local b-ball teams (#LabanPilipinas, #Animo and #GilasPilipinas) are part of the top ten Filipino sports hashtags.

The much-anticipated boxing rematch (#PacquiaoHorn) between local politician/boxer Manny “Pacman” Pacquaio and WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn is also another Twitter talking point, follow by the national cheerleading championship (#UAAPCDC2017) as well as two volleyball teams (#OBF and #GoldAndGloryAteneo).

The b-ball fever extends even to the top ten sports personality list with local team La Salle’s forward Ricci Rivero taking top spot. The homegrown basketballer played a major role in the UAAP finals and garnered 250000 followers!

Rivero is joined by fellow b-ballers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Mika Reyes, Prince Rivero, Brent Paraiso and Kib Montalbo.

Of course, the country’s best known boxing export Manny Pacquiao is also in, alongside volleyball stars Alyssa Valdez and Gretchen Ho.


Whereas in India, it is all about cricket.

The second most-populated country in the world flooded the Twitterverse with news of the ICC Women’s World Cup (#WWC17) and the ICC Champions Trophy Tournament (#CT17).

Archrivals India and Pakistan met in the #CT17 final and it became the most tweeted event of all time with 1.8 million tweets.

Such is the nation’s love affair with cricket that nine out of the top ten sports personalities in India are national cricketers.

Current national captain and one of the greatest batsman alive today, Virat Kohli stands head and shoulders above fellow cricketers MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharm, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Gautam Gambhir and Hardik Pandya as the top sporting personality in India.

Former professional shooter, and current Cabinet minister, Rajyavardhan Rathore is the only non-cricket related sportsman to complete the ten-man list. The Olympic silver medallist was awarded the Padma Shri award in 2005 for his sporting achievements.