Argentina has a pope and the “best football player in the world.” It’s hard to blame Argentines for being proud of their connection to Lionel Messi and Pope Francis. What a combo, right? When it comes to the social influence, both can probably stand their own but it might come as a shock that Messi might have just a bit more pull than His Holiness — on social media at least. When it comes to the “Social Index” it looks like even Pope Francis can’t keep up with Messi.

H+K Strategies, a consulting firm in Hong Kong, developed a rather elaborate social media ranking system called the “Ranking H+K Social Index” (HKSI) that shows how popular a person is by taking into account the amount of followers, posts and interactions on social media.

Messi beat the Pope with a score of 19.749, which is more than double the Pope’s score of 8.305. Apparently, people care more about football than religion now a days, based on these numbers.

Here are some stats:
  • Facebook:
  • Instagram:
    • Pope:  3.5 m followers and 301 posts
    • Messi: 63.7 m followers and 184 posts
  • Twitter:
    • Pope: 10.3 m followers and 1,093 tweets
    • Messi: Does not have one.

It’s no surprise that Messi has become one of the most influential Argentines in the world, seeing as even his own president has referred to him as “a gift from God.” With that kind of endorsement it’s hard to stay grounded.