Asia may not have as many well known clubs as Europe, but the world’s largest continent is home to hundreds of millions football fans.
SAUDI ARABIA: AL-HILAL
Founded in 1957, Riyadh-based Al-Hilal Saudi Football Club is one of four teams to have participated in all seasons of the Saudi Professional League. It has won nearly twice as many league titles as Jeddah-based Al-Ittihad, and was named Best Asian Club of the 20th Century by the IFFHS.
Al-Hilal is closing in on 2 million Instagram followers to go along with millions more on Facebook and Twitter.
Persepolis is not only the most popular football club in Iran, but according to the Asian Football Confederation it is the biggest in all of Asia. The Tehran-based club has claimed a record 10 titles in Persian Gulf Pro League play.
Ali Parvin, who starred for 18 years with Persepolis from 1970 to 1988, is widely regarded as the club’s greatest ever player, but current stars Mehdi Taremi and Godwin Mensha keep filling the seats at Azadi Stadium.
INDIA: KERALA BLASTERS
India is cricket-crazed, but football is on the rise with the advent of the Indian Super League. The Kerala Blasters, named for and owned, in part, by legendary cricketer Sachin “Master Blaster” Tendulkar, is one of the country’s most popular franchises even if has yet to win a league title.
Just a few years old, the Blasters have appeared in two of the three ISL title games and already have more than a quarter million followers on Instagram.
CHINA: GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE
Founded in 1954, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club won several second-tier titles before they became professional in 1993. They gained their first top-tier title in the 2011 season, and have since become the first club to win AFC Champions League twice (2013, 2015).
According to Forbes, Guangzhou Evergrande is the most valuable football team in China, with a team value in the hundreds of millions in US dollars.