European fans say domestic league games played overseas are good for clubs

By Community | February 27, 2012

NFL Super Bowl Champion, unhealthy Justin Tuck, added to Global Sports Forum Barcelona line-up, 7-9 March 2012

New research released today by brand engagement agency, Havas Sport & Entertainment, for  the Global Sports Forum Barcelona (GSFB) – www.globalsportsforum.org – shows that the majority of sports fans across Europe believe league games played overseas ‘do a good job of promoting their sport’.

The findings are announced as two-time NFL Super Bowl winner, Justin Tuck, of the New York Giants is confirmed as the latest speaker to take part in the GSFB, 7-9 March, 2012.  This month, Tuck won his second Super Bowl, and just as impressively, the defensive end’s charitable initiatives have resulted in more than $1 million (USD) raised and 45,000 books donated to students in need.  Tuck played for the Giants in the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium in 2007, giving him the authority to discuss with the GSFB’s 1,000 delegates how increased exposure, such as overseas competition, can expand an athlete’s philanthropic reach.

When European sports fans were asked about their perception of domestic club matches being played in foreign countries:

  • 65% agree that it does ‘a good job of promoting the sport in question’
  • 63% claim these matches ‘do a good job of attracting new fans to their team’.
  • 59% feel that foreign fixtures do ‘nothing to take away from the local identity of the club’
  • 61% believe fixtures played abroad have ‘little effect on alienating the club’s loyal fan base back home’

George Atallah, Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs of the NFL Players Association, said:

“Athletes across the world, such as Justin Tuck, already use the platform of sport to affect positive change. The findings released by Havas Sport & Entertainment show how humanitarian efforts of players will broaden with the globalisation of competition.”

The fans were surveyed across seven European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and UK) as part of the Global Sports Forum Barcelona’s study on the Globalisation of Sport.  Overall, it is Spanish fans who think that foreign fixtures are most useful for their team, with German sports fans having the most negative opinion of international club matches.

The findings of the study, along with many other issues affecting the sports industry – including Gambling in sport, football and finance and event bidding – will be discussed at the fourth edition of the GSFB, which will be attended by many of the sport industry’s leading rights holders, governing bodies, brands and athletes.

Lucien Boyer, President and CEO, Havas Sport & Entertainment and General Commissioner of the Global Sports Forum Barcelona, said:

“In recent times, we have seen a rise in the number of regular season fixtures being played abroad, with some of the biggest leagues in the world, including the NFL, NBA and English Rugby’s LV Cup all taking domestic fixtures into foreign territories. 

“The effect this has had on the loyal fans back home has been a topic of great debate and has prevented some leagues from expanding in this way, so it’s interesting to see what European sports fans think of this trend.  Our findings suggest that fans are not averse to seeing their teams play on foreign soil.  It may be that they believe that larger fan bases could generate revenue to spend on improving their teams.

“NFL players have been pioneers in playing domestic league fixtures overseas so it is apt that we have Super Bowl Champion, Justin Tuck, with us to discuss this trend and the importance of philanthropic works by athletes at the Global Sports Forum Barcelona.”