A fan is someone who has a strong interest in or admiration for a person, team or activity. At the simplest level, people ranking their interest at four or five on a five point scale are considered ‘fans’, but this includes a rich variety of people with very different motivations driving different types of fan behaviour. Interest in a major sporting event, such as the FIFA World CupTM, is not just from its sports fans. The “Big Eventers” are drawn from a much wider population to follow their national team at these key points in time, boosting the football audience. But are they fans?
A new generation of female fans
The traditional path to becoming a football fan – a father taking his son to the match at the weekend, or boys playing football in the school playground – is less relevant today. A new generation of female fans has emerged, and some leagues, teams and personalities have become global media properties, accessible and enjoyed across populations which have no historical connection to the game. So what are this new generation really fans of – the game, the league, the club?
Interest in a league or competition is often actually higher than the level of interest in football in a given population. A club fan may not see themselves as a fan of the league that the club plays in, even though they follow the matches within the league: there can be more club fans than league fans. However, it will always be the fan that fuels the sports marketing and sponsorship industry and continues to drive it forward.