At Seven League we know that real engagement requires true authenticity. Whilst that applies throughout life, in the world of sport the focus is even sharper. Try to ‘fake it til’ you make it’ with a passionate cohort of football fans, and you’ll be exposed faster than the right-back marking Leo Messi at the Nou Camp.
That’s why we’re so proud to have received a Sports Business Awards ‘Silver Medal’ for creating and delivering Fan Movement by FIFA, a game-changing initiative that has so far reached more than 160 million football supporters with a unique project that celebrates the special global community of fans.
Last week we accepted the silver prize in the ‘Best Fan Engagement Programme’ category, at the prestigious ceremony that marks some of the outstanding off-pitch work across the sports sector.
On hand to present the awards at The Brewery were former NFL star and BBC pundit Jason Bell, CEO of The European Tour Keith Pelley and newly appointed Chief Executive of UK Sport and current CEO of England Hockey Sally Munday, alongside a number of other industry leaders.
What is Fan Movement by FIFA all about, and how did we come to receive this prestigious award?
The first steps were taken back in 2016, when the President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, unveiled the new roadmap for the future of football: FIFA 2.0. Ultimately, this centred around FIFA’s new vision to promote the game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all.
Fast-forward to 2017 and there was a need to fundamentally change the relationship between FIFA as an organisation and the billions of football fans around the globe. The bold and pioneering internal team at FIFA recognised the need to create a brief that would sow the seed for real change. In response, we laid out our vision to create a global community of fans on a scale never witnessed before. Later that year, officially launching on the 1st day of the 2018 FIFA men’s World Cup, the Fan Movement by FIFA was born.
In the months leading up to launch, we researched, recruited and empowered 449 football fans from every imaginable area of the game and fan culture, with 44 countries represented in a truly authentic community.
Far from being yet another packaged influencer or creator network, these were genuine fans who believed in FIFA’s desire to create a new relationship with them and to represent their voices both inside and outside the organisation. These fans are unpaid and add their efforts for the good of the game.
As the world was gripped with FIFA World Cup fever, next came the fun bit as we empowered the Fan Movement to harness the power of their own community, creating inspiring stories and content through a series of prompts and challenges. Taking the user-generated-content and creating highlight reels and FanCam videos, the subsequent content was published both directly on FIFA.com and organically on social via the #WeLiveFootball hashtag to a global audience.
The campaign resonated brilliantly with the Sports Business Awards judges, whose comment below recognised the challenges involved in delivering a campaign on this scale.
“It is heartening to see a global governing body embracing digital platforms to give fans a voice, the results speak for themselves. Clearly there has been a vast increase in the number of people interacting with each other and FIFA, providing opinions and aiding to shape football. This is possibly FIFA’s biggest change in terms fan engagement and potentially policy change for a prolonged period of time.”
The content ranged from inspiring personal stories, to curated questions and challenges inspired by global FIFA ambassadors. Highlights included inviting Fan Movement members to show us their own freestyle skills and FIFA ambassador Marcel Desailly calling on fans to lobby for neutral supporters to switch to their own country.
In 2018, FIFA: Fan Movement generated over 60 hours of video, with their video stories reaching over 163 million people on FIFA channels alone. Said one member of the reviewing Sports Business Awards judging panel;
“This was a massive challenge, addressed in a very interesting way. Linking it to the 2018 FIFA World Cup ensured high engagement levels at a time when there was a reason for fans to visit FIFA channels. However, the numbers are of a scale to suggest this had broken the back of an issue and that a genuine global community has been created.
Even more exciting, is that this is just the beginning. Now in its second year, Fan Movement will play a major role in FIFA’s strategy over the coming years. Crucially, it is more than a creative network. The fan movement acts as a focus group 24/7/365… as a radar early warning system for challenging issues… as a sounding board for product development… as a way of supporting commercial and non-commercial partnerships… and as a way of making sure that the fans voices are heard, loud and clear, at the top of the sport – not least at the FIFA Women’s Football Convention which is taking place now, ahead of the kick-off of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.
As revealed here on FIFA.com, this is the first time Fan Movement members are present at the FIFA Women’s Football Convention. We’re delighted that yesterday, two Fan Movement members took to the stage and were interviewed by former Canadian star Karina LeBlanc.
Fan Movement’s mission is to Create, Connect and Champion global football communities. We consider this fan engagement 2.0, and we can’t wait for the next instalment.