The impending World Cup 2022 has prompted the publication of a detailed fan survey eliciting what supporters think of the winter contest.
4,981 fans from around the world were asked for their views by Footballco via the Goal website to gauge anticipation for an event that will now bring up the rear of the calendar instead of bisecting it, providing a backdrop to Christmas preparations rather than the summer holidays.
This is set against a wave of widespread discontent at the decision to shunt the sporting spectacle from its traditional June-July slot to November-December to prevent players and fans from baking under the Middle Eastern sun.
That decision united brands, media buyers and fans in a righteous bout of scheduling fury – but have these feelings tempered over intervening months? Here we sift through the data to provide you with five outcomes that have the biggest ramifications for Qatar and the sport.
Excitement holds up, despite the change in date
Crucially fans appear to have taken the seasonal shift in their stride, with a winter World Cup proving popular the world over.
The survey by the football-related content and media business indicates that while 51% of Europeans retain negative impressions of the scheduling switch, that sentiment is not shared elsewhere around the globe – with just 21% of fans in South East Asia, 18% of Latin American supporters and 17% of the public across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) against the move.
Fans club v country allegiances are divided straight down the middle
The competing loyalty of fans to their favored club versus their nation of birth shows up in the report, with 52% of fans as a whole favoring their club over their country.
The most patriotic flag-waving fans are to be found across MENA (63%), North America (56%) and South-East Asia (55%), while the balance shifts decisively in favor of individual clubs across Sub Saharan Africa (72%) and Europe (60%).
Crucially on-pitch success appears to directly correlate with patriotic fervor, with Euro 2020 winners Italy and World Cup 2018 champions France retaining the unwavering support of the majority of their populations.
World Cup adverts are more memorable than standard commercials
Some 60% of football fans concur that World Cup adverts are more memorable to them than everyday advertising – not surprising given the direction of their passions.
What makes this year extra special is the overlap with the Christmas period and the shift toward digital, presenting brands with the arduous task of cutting through the congested marketing bedlam and connecting with individuals.
The key takeaway
Asked what activity sofa spectators were most likely to engage in when cheering on their team in front of the small screen, 2,354 respondents said ordering takeaway food topped them all.
This is reflected in the sponsors’ names behind the tournament such as Deliveroo, which serves as the official delivery partner for the England national team.
The greatest World Cup advert of all time
The 1998 period piece from Wieden & Kennedy is cited as a pivotal moment for brands in sport and is remembered to this day for a smiling Ronaldo missing a penalty kick.
Reacting to the findings, Alex Chick, vice-president of content at Footballco, said: “Despite European misgivings, we’re confident that once the football starts, fans will lock into the tournament completely.
“The wider cultural impact could be the main point of difference. World Cups often take on a summer festival feel in Europe; we may have a new public mood to convey, as the 2022 tournament reaches casual fans differently.”
The report follows warnings that sponsors must tread carefully, with a “powder keg of socially-charged issues” ready to blow up in the face of brands.