Impressive crowds, high-scoring matches and record numbers watching the games unfold live on TV: the appeal of the UEFA Europa League has never been so high – and shows little sign of stopping.
The draw for the last 16 was made on Friday after an engaging night of football that had fans in the stadiums and around the world glued to the action. Some of the headline numbers following the round of 32 show just how the competition is continuing to grow:
• The second-highest attendance in UEFA Europa League history – 63,324 – was recorded last night at the Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadium in Istanbul as Beşiktaş JK defeated Liverpool FC on penalties. "It was the best atmosphere I have played in," said Liverpool veteran Kolo Touré.
• In fact, three of the top ten attendances in the six-year history of the competition were achieved over the last eight days. The last-32 first leg between Celtic FC and FC Internazionale Milano attracted 58,500 fans, with 54,308 turning up for FC Dynamo Kyiv versus EA Guingamp in Ukraine.
• In the round of 32, 68.37% of stadiums were full. This is highest average for this stage of the competition in the last five seasons.
• Several TV ratings records were broken:
- In the UK, 1.9 million viewers watched Beşiktaş v Liverpool, the highest early slot audience ever recorded in the country.
- In Spain, the Athletic Club v Torino FC game had 2.3 million viewers, the most watched match of the season in the competition.
- In the Netherlands, 2.3 million viewers watched Feyenoord v AS Roma, the best figures for a UEFA Europa League match in the country.
- In addition, 1.4 million people watched Legia Warszawa v AFC Ajax, the highest audience in an early slot since 2011/12.
- In Germany, 2.6 million viewers saw the Sporting Clube de Portugal v VfL Wolfsburg game, the highest audience for a UEFA Europa League game achieved in the last two seasons.
• The official UEFA Europa League Facebook page passed 10m likes during the round of 16 draw.
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