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WPP: Sports Makes World Go 'Round

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CHICAGO More than two-thirds of the adult population in the United States consider themselves "sports fans," according to a new study from the WPP Group.

The study, WPP SportZ, conducted among 21,000 sports fans in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and China, examined images of sports, sporting events and teams around the world with an eye toward matching brands with sports sponsorships.

Included in the findings of the WPP research was that more Americans play golf (26 million) than in Europe, China and Japan combined; 91 million Americans say track and field "promotes a healthy lifestyle," though only 4 million people participate; and that the Los Angeles Lakers are perceived to be as relevant as Domino's Pizza in the U.S.

Internationally, 100 million people in China, Japan, France, German, Italy, Spain and the U.K. say the Olympic Games is their favorite sporting event. Half the populations of those countries claim to watch soccer on television. The favorite foreign team in China is Manchester United, though 74 percent of British soccer fans love to hate the team. Spanish soccer team Real Madrid is a stronger brand in Spain than Ferrari is in Italy, according to the study.

The report was backed by WPP's BroadMind, Global SportNet, Hill & Knowlton, Mediaedge:cia, Millward Brown, Premiere and The Channel. The research was carried out by KMR and Millward Brown.