- Football is not only a sport, but also a full-on business, and this is observable by the surge in revenues of the UEFA European championship from 1992 to 2012
- The UEFA European Championship, along with the FIFA World Cup and Olympics Games, is one of the top three sporting events of the world
- The emerging middle class, together with technological advances and globalization, make football and its main events a universal channel to billions of potential consumers
Football, a term, a sport, which unites billions of people across the globe irrespective of ethnicity, race or religion. It can be played anywhere, anytime, with anybody, and almost with anything (as long as the object that represents the ball has a spherical shape). These attributes made it to be the world’s most popular sport, and while not only does it unite billions of people across the planet, but it is also one of the most powerful advertising mechanism thanks to its reach. The UEFA European Championship, along with the FIFA World Cup and Olympics Games, is one of the top three sporting events of the world. Furthermore, it is one of the most-followed sporting events in Europe, attracting the interest of both football fans and the business world alike. While for many it is pure enjoyment and even a way of life, for others it is a pure business opportunity. According to some estimates, the UEFA Euro 2012 co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine had a cumulated audience of about 1.9 billion, which is around one-quarter of the global population, and the final match between Spain and Italy was watched by nearly 300 million viewers worldwide vs. 237 million in 2008. The very same phenomenon can be observed when we look at the stadium attendance and its evolution over time (see chart 1).
These figures clearly illustrate the opportunity embedded in these events, and no wonder companies stand in line, outbidding themselves just to have their names as the official sponsors (see chart 2).
Football, the sport of the middle classes
“There is a school of thought that argues that watching top-flight football these days is a middle-class pastime, available only to those who can pay in advance for expensive season tickets.” And this really seems to be the case, unlike what it used to be twenty years ago. As previously explored in an earlier study entitled “Affordable Luxury” published on 7 April 2016, the global middle class is growing rapidly, and while football is everybody’s sport, the middle class is in the sweet spot.
Then there is globalization, and technological advances (online streaming), and all of a sudden we are at a point where billions of potential customers are watching the same event, seeing brands appearing, convincing them about their values and attributes, and for the first time in their lives they have the disposable income if they decide to act on their desires.
Those that will score the goals
While there are 10 global sponsors 4 for this year’s Euro Cup, it does not necessarily mean that they would be the sole winners. Even though most if not all of them should see a surge in their sales and brand awareness, for most it would only be a one-time push. The companies that we would focus on and identify as real winners are those who will be able to generate lasting brand awareness, have a certain appeal to their brands, and hence are capable of capturing the desires of billions of people.