Many sports have fanatic followers. In fact, the word “fan” derives from the word “fanatic”, which is defined as “marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense and uncritical devotion”. However, one sport surpasses others when it comes to fan engagement. We are talking about football of course!
There is no better proof of the power of football fans than the recent collapse of the European Super League. After the announcement of the behind-closed-door brokerage of a Super League made up of the continent’s most elite clubs, which seemed poised to disrupt, if not destroy, current leagues and cups, fans revolted – and l ‘won. Within days, almost all the clubs withdrew and apologized for participating in the project.
So while the owners of extremely wealthy clubs made the deal (the players themselves would have had no voice in the formation of the Super League and some criticized it), the final say fell to the four billion. sports fans around the world.
Seen in this light, to say that fan engagement is important is an understatement. If you are considering a career in the football industry, understanding the phenomenon of fan engagement can be of invaluable benefit. Let’s take an in-depth look at this question and what future leaders in the football industry should know about it.
Supporters’ engagement in football
Football is widely regarded as the most popular sport in the world. And it would be nothing without his fans. “If you have the best fans in the world, you have one of the greatest assets you can have. Football fans are the most dedicated, crazies and game lovers the sports world has witnessed,” Says Playo. Football has a global reach. Wherever you go in the world you will find football and people who care a lot about it.
Factors of fan engagement
When we think of fan engagement, winning might come first. And while victory is certainly important, it is far from the only thing that matters. (In fact, arguably poor results and adversity bind fans together and make them even more passionate.) So what does that matter?
After examining the relationship between sports fans and their teams, Gensler concluded that a great match-day stadium experience is the main driver of fan engagement. Fans of sports brands also appreciate tradition and stability.
According to Other Media, meanwhile, “360-degree” fan engagement takes place in four key areas: match days, non-match days, on-site and off-site. These include hosting fans, connecting fans, enhancing the live experience, and bringing fans closer to the live action.
Another factor in fan engagement? Social media. “There’s more content than ever to keep fans entertained, but more recently we’ve seen a new form of interaction emerge, which puts fans (and their opinions) at the epicenter of the game,” notes Medium.
Other factors in fan engagement include building a strong brand and narrative for the club, creating emotional connections and compelling content – and the distribution infrastructure to ensure that it reaches its target audience.
The value of fan engagement
Fan engagement isn’t just an interesting phenomenon. It is also essential for the sustainability of sports clubs and a catalyst for growth. “Fan engagement has never been greater for big football clubs whose support now extends far beyond their immediate region, with numbers reaching hundreds of millions – and presenting a significant business opportunity », Explains the ARM.
“Fans come to the stadiums for the experience and the emotions,” says Alexey Kirichek, sports industry professional and consultant. “We, as club managers, need to engage them with first-rate hospitality, top-notch service and excellent performance. We need them again and again. Clubs focusing on the interesting features of their products will increase customer (fan) satisfaction. Growing fan satisfaction will generate new flows of fans (followers) and lead to sustainable club growth. ”
And according to research on football fan engagement and customer experience innovation, “The value of football fans to their club goes beyond financial transactions, extending to marketing links with sponsors. , connections with other fans and interactions for the benefit of club management resources and community activities. “
For clubs looking to beat fierce competition, keeping fans’ interest is vital.
According to Deloitte’s analysis, sports organizations should use five fan engagement strategies: know their target audience, personalize it, think holistically about the experience, engage throughout the year, and recognize the loyalty. But this is only the beginning. Given the rapidly changing industry, especially amid COVID, and the many moving parts involved, the value of industry leaders who understand the landscape and have the skills and experience to navigate it is deep.
This is where the Football Business Academy (FBA) comes in. An innovative educational institution dedicated to the football industry, the FBA programs have been developed in collaboration with industry experts towards one overriding goal: to provide candidates with an optimal learning environment to acquire all the tools. they must thrive in this unique and dynamic industry.
The FBA’s 12-month Master in Football Business is divided into four models across three dimensions: examining the origins of the sport and its cultural sensitivity, understanding the present to determine stakeholders and best practices, and planning for the future. in a way that responds to today’s challenges and capitalizes on tomorrow’s opportunities.
In addition, the program includes a mixture of theoretical and practical learning, including online and on-site courses, field trips, a guaranteed internship and a student business project.
Given the central role that fan engagement plays in the football industry, it follows that the FBA pays great attention to this topic.
For example, the FBA recently announced a partnership with the blockchain-based fan engagement app Socios.com. Through this agreement, FBA candidates will have the opportunity to turn their knowledge into practice during internships with the organization, which uses digital assets known as Fan Tokens to interact with and monetize the global football fan base.
Indeed, internships provide FBA students with a first-hand view of the importance of fan engagement. During her internship at Atalanta Media, FBA student Paula Quintero had the unique opportunity to put her talents to work in the effort to elevate women’s football by working to “unite a global community.” Fan engagement is a major initiative.
“I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and moved to Miami, Florida when I was 10,” says Paula. “Due to the lack of accessibility and acceptance for women to play football in Colombia at the time, I never thought I would have a career or even a future in football. found the only girl to play and sometimes, especially at school, I wasn’t even allowed to play because it was considered a “men’s game.” However, that didn’t stop me from playing. ‘play it with the little boys in my neighborhood and at family events with the men in my family.
“However, after experiencing the reality that professional female players in Colombia face in terms of dealing with stereotypes and the lack of support in all aspects, I decided to expand my studies in football to have an impact on women’s football globally. I joined the FBA in early 2020 while having another great opportunity to do an internship for CONCACAF in the women’s football department from January to April. At CONCACAF, I quickly learned that what I had experienced in Colombia, both as a little girl and as a professional, was happening in many other countries. There was a lack of support, visibility, accessibility and investment among others, but CONCACAF, with Karina LeBlanc at the helm of women’s football, was working hard to make efforts to change that. I was immediately inspired by their strategy with their vision to “change perceptions, build lasting foundations and increase participation” in women’s football. “
And during her internship at Atalanta Media and working on her consumer brand Ata Football, Paula explains, “The Ata Football platform gives fans, coaches and players live, on-demand access to the best. moments of the world and premium content. Its aim is to create a community around women’s football and provide them with unforgettable and valuable football-related opportunities and experiences.
Yet fan engagement is only one element – albeit essential – in the complex and multifaceted football industry. The FBA’s Master in Football Business can provide future leaders in the football industry with the knowledge and skills they need to support clubs in fan engagement and other critical initiatives.
Article written in collaboration with The Football Business Academy.