Cruzeiro is the best supported club in the state of Minas Gerais, with about 30% of the state's population being a supporter of the club. Most surveys have put the club's fan base between 3%-4% of the overall Brazilian population (other surveys have put the fan base between 2.9%-5.3%). Considering a population of 200 million people, that would mean approximately 5.8-10.6 million (and 6-11 million) supporters.
Cruzeiro's fan base is also known as "Nação azul" ("blue nation") or "China azul" ("blue China") given its large size and growth in the last decades. Curiously, this nick was given by the Atlético-MG fan Roberto Drummond, who recognised in one of his articles the growth of Cruzeiro's fan base and he even predicted the hegemony of Cruzeiro's fan base in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais and in Brazil. This prediction has been proved since all the researches by the main institutes show Cruzeiro to have a much larger fan's base the Atlético-MG.
Cruzeiro's fan base in the state of Minas Gerais has grown throughout the years. In the 1930s the club trailed rival Atlético, who had 46.2%, while Cruzeiro had 35.9% of the popular support. That gap would decrease in the 1960s, though even in the 1980s Atlético still had a larger fan base. In the early 70's however most of the younger fans were already for Cruzeiro Surveys in the 1990s showed Cruzeiro's fan base as the new number one in the state, a gap which has increased in the 21st century. In 1998, 26% of the people of Minas Gerais were for Cruzeiro, against 16% for Atlético-MG. In 2005, 32,8% of the people of Minas Gerais were for Cruzeiro, and 16,9% for Atlético-MG. In 2009, 31% of the people of Minas Gerais were for Cruzeiro and 15% for Atlético-MG.
Originally Palestra's support came from the Italian immigrant community. The working class identity remained when the club became known as Cruzeiro, and the supporters spread beyond the Italian community. The club's main rival is Atlético Mineiro, but other rivals include América, Vasco de Gama, São Paulo, Palmeiras (the other major team in Brazil with Italian origins), Corinthians, and Grêmio. A 2010 survey showed Cruzeiro's fan base had an average monthly family income of R$1,342.45. For comparison this is slightly lower than Atlético Mineiro (R$1,353.28). The highest was Internacional (R$ 1.657.69), and the lowest was Flamengo (R$ 1.149,09).
On July 14, 2008 law number 9,590/2008 sanctioned "Cruzeiro and Cruzeirense Day" in Belo Horizonte which will be celebrated every 2 January.
Read more about this topic: Cruzeiro Esporte Clube
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