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Stat of the Week: Farthest Teams in Soccer Leagues

5:29 PMGoalChatter

by Aleks V |

A recent conversation with a fellow soccer fan on the problem of travel for away fans in the NASL (e.g., Edmonton to Florida) prompted a further investigation into the farthest distance fans travel in the world's top leagues. In the infographic below, I examine three modes of transport (car, train, plane). Note that the main mode of transport and total time is listed; possible transfers to other vehicles are omitted. Alternative modes of transport (bus, biking, walking, teleportation) are also not included.
Unsurprisingly, the English Premier League is the most accessible in terms of its farthest teams, closely followed by the Bundesliga. A trip from Freiburg (SC Freiburg) in the South to Hamburg (Hamburger SV) in the North, for instance, is only 8 stops (5 hours 46 min.) via ICE (InterCity Express), Germany's high-speed train service.

On the flip side, it would take at least 105 hours to travel by train from Vancouver (Whitecaps) to see Orlando City SC. That's the length of 70 soccer games! (Somehow, I doubt anyone's ever attempted that journey.)

In China, the greatest distance between teams in the top division is only 1,000 miles less than in MLS, yet travel time is 29 hours by train. Not surprising, considering China has the world's longest high-speed rail system.

The Indian Super League came second to MLS in longest traveling distance between its farthest teams, with over 40 hours of travel by car or by train separating Dehli (Dehli Dynamos) and Kochi (Kerala Blasters). Like MLS, the ISL is one of few soccer leagues that does not have promotion and relegation. While the average attendance of ISL games is higher than MLS, total attendance in America's top tier is nearly seven times greater. Then again, MLS has been around 20 years longer.

Two of the top 10 leagues, Liga Mx and the Argentine Primera Division, lacked public transport between their farthest teams. An 18 or 19-hour road trip it is!

Although not the only factor affecting attendance, it's no coincidence that the three most popular soccer leagues - the Bundesliga, English Premier League, and La Liga - are also the most accessible.

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