Insights Football Fans And The Enduring Human Spirit Amidst A Pandemic
Football Fans And The Enduring Human Spirit Amidst A Pandemic

Football Fans And The Enduring Human Spirit Amidst A Pandemic

 

“Traditionally, sports served as a worldwide unifier,” said Michael LoRè, a sportswriter contributor at Forbes in his article, “The Importance of Sports Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic Continues to be Emphasized.” Race, politics, religion, gender and socioeconomic status are all disregarded and forgotten when supporters join together to celebrate the result of a match.

 

But the moment the looming pandemic swept across the globe, everyone took a tough, isolated hit. For fans of football teams, for instance, this became an especially challenging shift in their life–as most major football seasons were either altered or halted due to strict regulations brought by the outbreak. This means that football lovers weren’t able to support their favourite athletes and teams from the stands.

 

On the flip side, however, many people didn’t consider the crisis as all gloom and doom. They, instead, view it as a catalyst of collaboration as they venture out to search for its silver lining–and they have discovered this through their admiration for football.

From the very beginning to the present, football has always been known as the king sport by owning billions of crazy, passionate followers across the globe. Compared to other sports, the number of football supporters is much higher.

 

Have you ever wondered…

Why does this sport receive so much attention? Is there something deeper going on inside people’s minds when they cheer for their team? And why even in the midst of a pandemic? Let us count the ways and discover how this sport has influenced everyone up to this day.

 

From Joannon, Mattheiu. (2018). People Partying after France wins FIFA World Cup [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

From Joannon, Mattheiu. (2018). People Partying after France wins FIFA World Cup [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

 

Reasons Why People Ardently Fascinate Football

We are all entitled to have opinions. For many, especially avid football fans, this sport may be more than just a game. Each person has their own reasons why they are so hooked on this sport–and some of these reasons include:

 

It’s A Religion

Football, also known as soccer, is a kind of sport that is played almost consistently across the globe. A 2006 Big Count survey conducted by FIFA found that there are approximately 265 million players who are actively involved in football globally, which is about 4 per cent of the Earth’s population.

 

It is not dominated nor practised by one particular nation. This means that one in twenty-five people you meet is directly involved in this sport, and it will continue to grow annually by two or three per cent.

 

There’s No Particular Time Or Season

The beauty of playing this game is that there is never a time or a bad season for soccer. Minimal requirements in this sport are that you can start anytime at any place–whether outdoors or indoors, anywhere where there is space.

 

It’s Truly A Team Sport

Football offers a chance for all players to be in the spotlight. Each one has an individual role, a specific duty, but in each position, even goalkeepers can push forward, assist in defending the game, take a free kick and score!

 

Size Doesn’t Matter

It is a common misconception that only those with big built muscles and tall people can play football. However, many famous football players such as Johan Cryuff firmly believe that this is not true. In fact, size matters less than speed and agility. Football is entirely based on control, touch, and sheer strategy. On top of that, did you know that there are no age requirements to take the pitch on this sport?

 

Take Luke Shaw of Southampton and Raheem Sterling of Liverpool, for instance. Both athletes made their debuts in football at the age of 17 and were able to impress their fans with their incredible performance. When it comes to football, once a team believes a player is ready for the game, they will throw that newbie out on the pitch.

 

From Sasint. (2016).Children playing football. [Photograph]. Pixabay Free Licence

From Sasint. (2016).Children playing football. [Photograph]. Pixabay Free Licence

 

There’s No Better Feeling Than Watching Your Favorite Team Score

Football is full of excitement. There is a reason why sports enthusiasts sit at the edge of their seats the moment a player hits the ball. The hype alone is enough to provide a person or group of people with an adrenaline rush. Emotional highs are like a drug. When your favourite football team takes the long run to score down a goal in the last few seconds of the game, you cannot resist that feeling of being overwhelmed with joy.

 

The World Comes Together During The World Cup

People support different teams. During a season or tournament, families and friends gather to witness the competition. Everyone will cheer their teams to victory. The stadiums will be jam-packed, and ardent fans of all ages come to the event to watch the game from all over the world.

 

Some would even put on their favourite team’s shirt and use an assortment of props to show support to the players. Those who prefer to watch on TV also enjoy the tournament with their families, friends and colleagues. Football is something that brings everyone together.

 

One great example is the FIFA World Cup which is the most widely viewed sports event in the world. And if you haven’t witnessed a football world cup match to date before, then you are missing out on quite a lot. About 715 million spectators watched the 2006 final competition in Germany, while the South Africa event in 2010 was aired to 204 countries on 245 various channels.

 

The Margin Or An Error Is An Inch

The ratio between football games is typically just an inch, it takes plenty of effort to get some points so what’s high is the suspense. If either side of the team placed the ball into the net first and they played against the house right from the start of the game, the match could also be tense. The team will aim to maintain their form and attempt to either lift or equalize the opponent’s score. This can be pretty nerve-wracking to both players and the audience.

 

Even if the final score ends up as 0-0, the match is still engaging since the two sides played fair and not to mention, are both fierce–particularly, when holding on to that feeling of tension for 90 minutes. After that, the remaining time will be spared for penalty shootouts between the two teams–which in return can add up to spectators and players’ stressful situations as both will have to wait for who is capable of winning the game.

 

The Sense Of Passion

No matter where you witness a football game–be it on television or in the actual event–one thing never changes. The passion surrounding everyone in the match. Regardless of the country you live in, that passion for football remains the same. The same passion is observed at the stadium, in homes around the globe and on the pitch during each competition date.

 

Every major stadium in global football is crowded at each event with fans and supporters that would do anything in their power to support their players and club until victory. No other sport in the world can compete with the passion everyone has during every football match.

 

Clearly, there are millions of reasons why avid fans and football lovers alike experience these dying moments and go all the way just to gather at the time of matches. It’s like defining love. It drives us nuts but the feeling is magical.

 

And for people who love the feeling of magic, to them, the game must always go on–even in times of crises… which brings us to the next topic.

 

From robanderson72. (2021). UEFA EURO 2020 [Photograph]. Pixabay Free Licence

From robanderson72. (2021). UEFA EURO 2020 [Photograph]. Pixabay Free Licence

 

Triumph In The Shadow Of The Pandemic

The spread of the COVID-19 and the consequent pandemic in early 2020 has created unprecedented changes in all spheres of life in the world. The entire 2020 has been a victim of this new biological threat to human civilization, taking a tough toll on life in various parts of the globe.

 

And as the Earth has gone through a major transformation in the coronavirus regime, sports, in general, and football, as the most popular mass spectator sport, in particular, has been no exception to this craze.

 

From Unuabona, Ehimetalor Akhere (2021). England And Italy Football Fans make their way to Wembley for the Euro 2020 Finals Match. [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

From Unuabona, Ehimetalor Akhere (2021). England And Italy Football Fans make their way to Wembley for the Euro 2020 Finals Match. [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

 

Euro 2020: Joy After A Suffering

A cacophony of honking cars, singing fans and fireworks filled the night in Rome when crowds of people took to the streets after Italy won their first major football trophy since the 2006 World Cup against England.

 

For the Italians, it marked a new beginning not only for their sprightly national team but also for their country that has been longing to return to normalcy after the immense suffering brought by the coronavirus pandemic. According to FirstPost, the country has recorded over 127,000 COVID deaths, which is the highest among the 27 European nations.

 

Fabrizio Galliano, a 29-year-old resident from Naples who witnessed the match on a big screen in the city, said to FirstPost, “We are coming out of a dreadful year and a half which has left us exhausted, like other countries in the world.” Furthermore, he added, “This means so much. Sports is one of the things that unite us, among anything that could separate us. But to finally be able to feel that joy that we’ve been lacking, it goes beyond sports.”

 

Since the spring, most pandemic restrictions that have been lifted and those that remained were widely ignored by a mass of Italian fans who danced in the streets of the city chanting “we are Europe’s champions.” “It’s been a complicated year for everyone but especially for us who was one of the first countries hit. This is a signal of a new beginning,” said Michela Solfanelli, a 30-year-old event producer based in Milan.

 

Shoulder to shoulder, supporters nervously watched the penalty shootout on two huge screens placed on Piazza del Popolo, an elliptical cobblestone square at the edge of the historic centre of Rome. Then, a deafening roar lifted up to the sky as the country’s goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved the last penalty of England.

 

While residents are still mandated to wear masks in populous situations, city police made no attempts to intervene as troops of barefaced fans poured out of the Piazza, lighting flares and singing the national anthem. Fireworks cracked overhead as supporters sailed through Rome waving Italian flags from their cars.

 

From Donnelly, Shaun (2021). Liverpool FC fans celebrate winning the league. [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

From Donnelly, Shaun (2021). Liverpool FC fans celebrate winning the league. [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

 

Liverpool Final Game of Premier League Season

Last 23 May 2021, as featured by TalkSport, Liverpool’s fans whole-heartedly belted out a sensational rendition of their club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as they returned to Anfield for the final day of the Premier League season.

 

With pandemic restrictions easing and some parts of the globe experiencing post-pandemic recovery earlier this month, the Reds’ supporters were back at the stadium and marked the occasion by their passionate singing of YNWA before kick-off. The performance was so striking that the club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ started going viral on social media. Countless media and fans captured the spine-tingling rendition on their phones. It undeniably inspired the players ahead of what was a crucial game.

 

The competition itself was vitally important as Liverpool hosted Crystal Palace, requiring the team to secure a place in the top four. Fast forward to the final day, the midweek win of Chelsea over Leicester placed them in a commanding position in the three-horse race which saw two positions available.

 

The Blues held third on 67 points, with their two top-four contenders both on 66. Liverpool held a goal difference of +24 and so held forth as the goal difference of +20 of Leicester left them in the critical fifth position.

 

From jorono (2017).Liverpool FC. [Photograph]. Pixabay Free Licence

From jorono (2017).Liverpool FC. [Photograph]. Pixabay Free Licence

 

The Human Spirit Prevails Even In Times Of Crisis

Humanity has been hit with many global crises throughout history–from the current one, the Spanish Flu in 1918, and including the Black Death in the 14th century. And yet, the human spirit wins all the time. We have always not beaten these catastrophes but flourish despite them and even at times because of these hardships. Yet, we come out strong and tirelessly help one another, hand-in-hand, to get through it all. Some of which are as follows:

 

The Perfect Media (date). Billboard for Adidas World Cup 2018. Located at Queensway Shopping Centre, Singapore.

The Perfect Media (date). Billboard for Adidas World Cup 2018. Located at Queensway Shopping Centre, Singapore.

 

 

You’ll Never Walk Alone Fundraising Campaign Singapore

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” has become the unofficial anthem of the universal fight against the coronavirus around the world, crossing geographical backgrounds, clubs, and boundaries.

 

Give.asia–together with its partners, Tan Chuan-Jin, Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), the Parliament Football Team, AXA, the Official Liverpool Supporters Club, and local businessman Tan Chin Hwee–launched the fundraising campaign, You’ll Never Walk Alone that aims to raise at least S$300,000 to support over 80 social service agencies in their critical programmes.

 

“The song You’ll Never Walk Alone has become an anthem of solidarity for many because of the Covid-19 situation. The lyrics are inspiring and an evergreen message of hope and call for unity,” said the speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, as reported in The Straits Times.

 

“With this fundraising campaign, I hope to encourage everyone to keep supporting one another, particularly the vulnerable groups in our community. Caring for the disadvantaged should never cease, regardless of the circumstances,” Tan added. To heighten its efforts, there will be a silent auction of collector’s items and Liverpool memorabilia as well.

 

The President of the Official Liverpool Supporters Club (Singapore), Mohamed Rasuul Mohamed Mahfuzh stated, “Together with Community Chest, we hope to reach out to everyone to give with an open heart and support our fellow Singaporeans to ride past the storm together. Every dollar raised will go a long way in ensuring no one walks alone.”

 

The Perfect Media (date). Adspace Pre-Order Ad Announcement for Liverpool Football Club’s  Merchandising Store. Located at Queensway Shopping Centre, Singapore.

The Perfect Media (date). Adspace Pre-Order Ad Announcement for Liverpool Football Club’s  Merchandising Store. Located at Queensway Shopping Centre, Singapore.

 

 

Liverpool Football Club Opening In The Queensway Shopping Centre

In partnership with Western Corp, the Liverpool Football Club announced its new store opening in the Queensway Shopping Centre at Bugis Junction, Singapore but in accordance with the local COVID-19 restrictions–as published in their official website, Liverpool FC News. The new store brings an extensive range of Nike replica kits, fashion accessories, club merchandise, and special edition products to fans in the sector.  Fans in the region can even access the store online via Weston.com.

 

“Weston Corp is proud to partner with Liverpool FC to bring its second official retail store concept to Singapore in one of Singapore’s most iconic sports malls, Queensway Shopping Centre, along with a dedicated LFC branded area within our own retail website,” said Amandeep Chopra, sales director of the Weston Corp. “As a key player in the football and sports retail industry in Asia, we are delighted to expand the Liverpool FC retail footprint in the region, allowing the club’s passionate fanbase access to official merchandise,” he added.

 

From  Heerden,Frans Van (n.d.) Olympic Figure. [Photograph]. Pexels Free Licence

From  Heerden,Frans Van (n.d.) Olympic Figure. [Photograph]. Pexels Free Licence

 

Sports And Advertising: What Went Wrong?

Aside from football, other sports are also trying to make a comeback. But behind the glory and cheers that have been going on in the world of football, we still couldn’t ignore that the world is in a major surge and with every action awaits a consequence.

 

David, author of Don’t Worry Be Gloomy once said, “When we’re overly cheerful, we tend to neglect important threats and dangers.”This is exactly what happened during the announcement of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as it sparked controversy all over social media and the news.

 

From Londoño, Alexander. (2017). Your dreams are next door. [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

From Londoño, Alexander. (2017). Your dreams are next door. [Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

 

Toyota Cancels Tokyo Olympics TV Ads

In the news entitled, “Toyota Cancels Tokyo Olympics TV Ads in Japan, CEO Won’t Attend Opening Ceremony” Patrick Brzeski at The Hollywood Reporter announced that the decision [to cancel Tokyo Olympics TV commercials in Japan] mirrors Tokyo Olympics’ deep unpopularity in the host country of Japan–where residents fear that staging the Games will further stoke up the nasty uptick in delta variant COVID-19 infections.

 

As a result, the Toyota Motor Corp., the top-tier Olympics sponsor, has decided to pull out all of its Olympics-related TV ads in Japan. The local media speculated that the decision may be associated with the troubled Summer Games which the auto manufacturer feared that it may cause tarnish to its brand rather than burnish it.

 

The company was planning to run a series of TV commercials in Japan featuring Olympic athletes whom Toyota sponsors. But now, media analysts will be keeping a weather eye on the event if the decision from the auto company, a titan of the Japanese business world, would influence other local advertisers and sponsors to distance themselves from the Games.

 

Collectively, a few five dozen Japanese organizations spent more than $3 billion to sponsor the event–which is considered the largest contribution from an Olympic host nation’s companies ever. The probability of local brands bailing from the event has been a subject of speculation for weeks on account of the embittered feelings many local citizens hold toward the Games.

 

Public concern remains high with Tokyo under its fourth state of emergency amid a spike in the delta variant COVID-19 cases. People fear that hosting the Games involving tens of thousands of athletes, journalists and officials entering the country across the globe will jeopardize the lives of the Japanese residents.

 

From Afiontzi, Eleni. (2019) Rainy days are usual in this moody city but that is its beauty.[Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

From Afiontzi, Eleni. (2019) Rainy days are usual in this moody city but that is its beauty.[Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

 

A High Demand for Advertisers

Contrary to the erupting criticism, there seems to be a high call for advertisers.

 

In another news update entitled, “Toyota Withdraws Olympics Advertising In Japan; NBCU Says No Advertiser Has Canceled Olympics Plans In [the] U.S.” on 19 July 2021, Tom Tapp at Deadline cited Mark Lazarus, television and streaming chairman of NBCU, when Lazarus described the demand for advertisers as “robust.”

 

According to the NBCU chairman, there were over 100 total advertisers during the Rio Games. With only a month left, it already had over 120 and more than 80 of those are new. Going back to Toyota’s TV ad withdrawal, it was also mentioned that many of Japan’s major Olympic sponsors were planning to stage large-scale on-the-ground marketing campaigns to arouse enthusiasm for their brands in the middle of the thrill of the event.

 

Unfortunately, those plans were laid to waste two weeks before the Games when Olympic organizers announced that spectators would not be allowed to enter from nearly all Olympic venues. Fifteen Japanese firms, including Asahi Breweries–Tokyo Olympics’ official beer–paid around $135 million each to become Tokyo 2020 Gold Partners, the most extravagant tier of sponsorship to local businesses for a single Games.

 

So, Why Are Some Big Companies Pulling Their Ads From The Olympics?

WCNC Charlotte broke down the grounds as to why businesses were withdrawing their ads from the Olympics. And their report was relatively apparent: companies typically fork out hundreds of millions of dollars to have the opportunity to reach a global mass as supporters will be flocking to host cities.

 

But this year, international fans are banned and that means the streets of Tokyo will be more tranquil than expected. So these sponsors are losing out on the chance to “show off” to global visitors. In addition, they are dealing with the backlash from the Japanese residents.

 

Based on one survey, two-thirds of the Japanese population report that they are troubled that the Olympics will be a “super-spreader” event. On the bright side, however, if things turn out smoothly, there is the possibility of a record-breaking TV audience.

 

From RODNAE Production. (n.d.) People sitting on grass waving their hands.[Photograph]. Pexels Free Licence

From RODNAE Production. (n.d.) People sitting on grass waving their hands.[Photograph]. Pexels Free Licence

 

In the End, People Still Fancy The Olympics

“Because like life, the Games are a big mess that somehow brings out the best in the human spirit. Let every empty seat at the Olympics opening ceremony be a tribute to lost loved ones and every wave to the TV camera be a kiss goodbye to the pandemic,” says Mark Kiszla in his opinion column Why can’t we stop loving the Olympics? published in The Denver Post.

 

He ventured forth to the host of the 2020 Olympics Game to record the preparation of the event and show support to his fellow American athletes. To him, every empty bleacher on the stadium feels like a stark reminder of somebody who was cherished and loved but is no longer here.

But each time American athlete waves at the TV camera to send their love back home, it also serves as a reassurance that nothing can defeat the human spirit. He also added that humans survive a year no one ever wanted to repeat yet people hung together through tears.

 

During his interview with Megan Rapinoe, a U.S. soccer icon, Rapinoe said, “Well, it could be collective grief from the pandemic that’s still obviously raging.” She added, “ In a lot of parts around the world, it could be a relief to finally get to do things again. And hopefully a sense of joy of having something to do and something to watch.” To get to his point on why people can’t stop loving the Olympics, he compared the Games to life. To him, life can be a huge mess that somehow reveals the best in the human spirit–in spite of the ridiculously overblown budget allotted for the Games.

 

He knew that it may be impossible for a visitor like him to be granted permission in the airport, due to the spiralling numbers of COVID cases. But what bolstered his smile was the unwavering rainbow coalition of athletes, from a reed-thin Nigerian runner to a barrel-chested Canadian weightlifter, slowly walking through the airport concourse, dealing with the same red-tape frustrations as him. He described that their [the athletes] motivation to put up with the struggle was for the purest of reasons: We all want to go out and play.

 

He believes the Tokyo Olympics can serve as a reward for enduring the uncertainties and anguish of the previous-packed [21] months. “While it’s no doubt that this pandemic has a massive emotional and economic dent in the Games, the coronavirus cannot quash our Olympic spirit,” beamed Kiszla.

 

From Collins, Robert (2017) Football outside Jakarta.[Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

From Collins, Robert (2017) Football outside Jakarta.[Photograph]. Unsplash Free Licence

 

What Do All Of These Events Teach Us?

No one could have predicted what the pandemic would mean for us, how it would change our lives and how we would create new ways to keep growing, going, and surviving. The COVID-19 crisis has been (and continues to be) a burdensome time for many, but one thing is for sure: It has taught us many lessons. And from this point, here are some of our takeaways in three factors for you.

 

In terms of sports:

  • Sports have the power to inspire and unite people in a way that little else does even in times of difficulty.
  • Sports help develop self-esteem whenever fans or supporters see their team aiming for victory.
  • Games such as football can serve as a venue for emotional expression since people also deserve an escape from real-world troubles.
  • Finally, sports such as football, provides a sense of belonging, a connection to a more extensive world. Neglecting the fact that we have isolated ourselves in our homes for a very long time.

 

In terms of life:

  • Humans are adaptable.
  • No matter how many crises have passed, we are all born resilient.
  • The little things matter
  • A positive perspective is powerful
  • There is no rainbow without rain
  • Life is a lesson which we will learn and continue to learn every day

 

In terms of business:

  • Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota Motor Corp., and his decision to withdraw all the Olympic-related TV advertisements in Japan has taught us that saving your brand’s reputation is more important than “showing off” to get more attention.
  • Pick your bets and make hard choices
  • The ability to adapt, take advantage of new opportunities and refocus is a key success factor
  • Anything can happen. That is why you’ll need proper approaches and a good backup plan with you.

 

Don’t Wait For A Crisis To Clearly Define Your Outdoor Advertising Strategy

Too often, a sense of complacency can emerge when things seem to be going well and it tempts a business owner to work under the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality. However, this will leave you unprepared for unexpected events, be it a weather calamity or let alone, something as drastic as the pandemic. Luckily in the present, some parts of the globe are already recovering from the nightmarish pandemic.

 

Sports, for instance, are starting up again. With football now in the world of global discussion –fields are being prepped, jerseys are coming out, and sports advertisements popping up everywhere–this is the ideal time to take advantage of the pandemic advertising boom.

 

However, without a baseline, how will you be able to adjust to such fast-paced changes in the market? And if you cannot articulate what you were attempting to reach under normal circumstances, how can you identify what adjustments you need to make in this post-pandemic situation?

 

That’s why you need to consult a good Out-of-Home media agency to boost your brand awareness and reach a wide range of audiences. If you are ready to embark on the post-pandemic market or to improve your outdoor advertising strategy for your business, The Perfect Media Group can help. Contact us to get started!

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