European Football Benchmark: Fans' views from around the world 2021 report

Statista Global Consumer Survey


Fans can’t wait to come back, but want protection
Although social media helped a lot of fans stay connected during the pandemic, fans are now hungry again for the stadium experience. In fact, more fans plan to visit a stadium regularly after the pandemic, than went to a stadium regularly before COVID-19 locked down the world. However, fans around the globe overwhelmingly (over 80% in each country) want to see safety measures implemented to feel safe in a stadium on their return. Fortunately, they are willing to play their part to make it happen. Fans would mainly like to see mandatory mask wearing and social distancing in stadium and they would also like to see clubs make sure facilities are clean and regularly disinfected.

The premier league dominates the other big 5 leagues, in and out of Europe
Despite being off and on again during the pandemic, the Premier League is either the most followed league or second most followed league in each country surveyed. More importantly for its brand, it is the most followed league outside of Europe and the favorite league among Chinese (50%) and U.S. (63%) football fans. This has also allowed Manchester United to be the dominant club in these markets, just ahead of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool.

eSports is an essential part of a modern football club
Interest in eSports is getting bigger and bigger, in Europe around half of football fans in each country are now interested in or play eSports. But outside Europe these numbers are even larger, in China 84% and the U.S. 66% either play or are interested in eSports. Further to this, around a third of fans from each country now expect a modern football club to have an esports team. So, any club looking to increase sponsorship opportunities or fan engagement in the Chinese or U.S. markets, eSports could provide the perfect vehicle.

Chinese fans are more receptive to sponsors; social media is essential for visibility
Fans from China (38%) state they are much more likely to use products of brands if they sponsor their football team compared to European fans, less than 20% in each European country. So, for brands looking to grow in China, football provides a strong platform for advertising products and services. However, even though traditional touchpoints for sponsors, such as on kits (67%), in stadiums (58%) and TV (57%) are important, for accessing Chinese fans social media is becoming even more relevant, where 61% of fans state seeing sponsors via social media in the past 4 weeks.

Women’s football is on the rise, except in Germany
Women’s football is considered by many as one of the most exciting new areas for sponsorship in football, and the European Football Benchmark does not dispute this, showing considerable number of fans, around half in most countries, either interested or very interested. More importantly interest for club football is catching up to the national team’s level. However, German fans are not as convinced regarding the rise of women’s football with only 32% saying its on the rise, compared to each other country surveyed where approximately half of fans believe women’s football is ascending. German fans are also not as eager to see women’s football stars in the media (18%) and are less likely to want to see more coverage on free TV than other countries (23%).

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