Sport does not get bigger than the FIFA World Cup, which is a global event in the truest sense, showing just how wide, and deep, the passion for football runs worldwide. Football brings people together everywhere and it is therefore only fitting that the concept of ‘connectivity’ has become so critically important today.
Fans want to be connected to the teams they support, the players they avidly follow, as well as other fans. The technology and platforms, particularly social media, enabling interaction are growing in significance and fast becoming indispensable. Taking the English Premier League as one example, multi-screen use by football fans in the UK has surged by 28% this season.
Multi-screening poses a real opportunity for marketers both in the home and at the game. It opens up a new vehicle for sponsorship activation, which traditional mediums cannot support as freely or as instantly.
The geography of where football fans are based and therefore the balance of sponsorship investment is also changing. The sport is growing rapidly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, engaging new fans and companies that are in turn playing prominent roles in sponsorship.
This evolution brings us back to, yet again, focus on the fan, with growing attention on those in these emerging markets. As the dispensable incomes of increasingly engaged fan bases grow, so too will their value to sponsors. As the game grows within these markets, the attentions of major broadcasters will change and leagues could well grow in popularity with foreign players joining the local talent pools. This would continue the shift in football’s commercial balance from Europe to the markets of Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Hosting tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup allows countries and cities to leverage value. As the interest in football and sponsorship of football continue to grow, staging events is becoming an industry in itself. Understanding how hosting major events has changed over time provides an important insight into just how vital football is in the world today, for cities and countries as well as sponsors and fans.
In today’s world, the hosting of major football tournaments can be vital for cities and nations commercially, socially and politically. Whether an event is used to promote social mobility in a country, or put it on the map as a tourist destination, or business partner, the right to host the world’s most beloved game for a global audience is becoming an increasingly prized investment and asset.
More so than ever before, hosting major tournaments is also being seen, and used, as a vehicle for social change and mobility. Russia’s successful 2018 FIFA World Cup bid is one example of how football is being used in such a way; beyond an event staged simply to generate short-term revenue opportunities, It represents long-term development potential for a nation.
Although it can be difficult to predict these changes one thing is for sure, from consumption to sponsorship, fans are changing the commercial landscape of the beautiful game.
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