Soccer fans are known for reacting passionately to each goal. It’s not surprising then, that Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal between Brazil and Germany was the most tweeted event in sporting history. Photos and videos showed Brazilian fans reacting to the loss with anger and tears as soccer fans worldwide raced to analyze what went wrong.
Passionate soccer fans are the research focus of Goodman School of Business Prof. Peter Yannopoulos. Yannopoulos is currently researching the underlying motivations for attending soccer games. He’s exploring the way emotions and social identities impact attendance and how sports marketers can use this research to improve ticket and merchandise sales.
Yannopoulos, along with colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Open University of Greece, is looking to get to the heart of what motivates soccer fans to buy tickets and travel across the world to watch a game that could be watched in the comfort of their own home.
In a recent interview with the St. Catharines Standard, Yannopoulos explained how his research is showing that excitement among soccer fans is more pronounced than in other sports. This different level of excitement is important to sports marketers who need to find a way to make their soccer club or soccer-related products stand out in a crowded market.
“Sports marketers are always trying to figure out what motivates people,” Yannopoulos said in his interview. “And we know what gets them going is what we call emotional excitement — the feel of winning, victory and being part of the game.”
The findings of Yannopoulos’s exploratory study, which is currently under review for publication by a sports marketing journal, also highlights that socialization is a less important factor for soccer fans, especially male soccer fans, than say, the fans of American football.
“Unlike basketball, American football, and other sports with frequent time-outs,” explains Yannopoulos in his study, “soccer has only one halftime break and requires continuous attention from spectators.”
The fast-paced nature of the game leaves little time for socialization as fans become consumed with the excitement around them.
So when you are watching the World Cup final on Sunday, July 13, feel free to dress up in your team colours, decorate your house and cheer as loudly as you can. The research shows that this is exactly what a passionate fan is supposed to do.