Football was a big focus for the IS team this year, unsurprisingly given the hype and success of the UEFA Women’s Euros and the FIFA World Cup – and our features this year certainly reflected that interest.
Sam Patterson – the women’s football commercial boom
With domestic leagues finished, the Women’s Euros gripped the continent, and this in drove a huge uptick in commercial interest in the game, as explained by Sam Patterson, Managing Director of Footy.com.
“Women’s football is going to continue to grow and grow, and this has been a huge boost that companies can definitely benefit from. I think there’s benefits on both sides of sponsorship deals, not just at a top-end professional level, but all through the leagues and into grassroots as well.”
Michele Ciccarese – Italian football’s Web3 journey
Just because the domestic season was over during the summer, it did not mean leagues and teams kept quiet, however. Italy’s Serie A was no exception to this, and the tournament’s Commercial and Marketing Director, Michele Ciccarese, broke down its partnership with Sorare and NFT ambitions in this exclusive interview.
“Digital consumption is constantly growing and football clubs now have massive, global fanbases looking for better engagement with their players.
“We are in a journey of digital transformation from Web2 to Web3, and Serie A has a role to play empowering our fans in the evolution from content consumers to content owners.”
Michelle Walder – women’s football and the men’s World Cup
As the FIFA World Cup commenced in mid-November, one might think it could be easy to forget the excitement of the summer’s Euros. Brighton & Hove Albion’s Women and Girl’s Chair, Michelle Walder, argued that this was anything but the case, despite concerns about host nation Qatar’s record on women’s rights.
“As ever with football, there’s two sides to it. If I take it from my perspective as a teenage girl, nothing made me fight harder for something than a barrier.
“But I think the increasing opportunities for girls particularly, and women, to play football is not going to go away any time soon, so I think that watching a showcase tournament is only going to encourage people to pick up a ball and go and play outside.”
Rafael Bertoli-Mitchell – a contest of the highest calibre
As much as we love football as Insider Sport, it is of course not ours or the sporting public’s only focus, and boxing has been taken to new heights in recent years. This exclusive interview saw Rafael Bertoli-Mitchell, BOXXER Partnerships Manager, provide an inside scoop into the boxing promotion’s partnerships with bet365 and Sky Sports.
“Signing a four-year deal with Sky in 2021 was a landmark moment for BOXXER, providing us with an unrivalled platform in terms of reach and audience, helping to significantly grow the BOXXER brand, build a stable of elite fighters and deliver major shows around the UK – all featuring Sky’s best-in-class production.”
Max Proctor – sports’ digital doorway
As has been made apparent by many of our investigations this year, Web3 has been a huge talking point, not just in sports but across the board – and in one of Insider Sport’s final interviews of the year, Doppelganger Managing Director Max Proctor explained what all the hype is really about.
“Web3 is the notion of a decentralised internet made possible through the use of blockchain technology. Whereas Web2 saw us all handing over our data to the big tech giants, Facebook, Google etc. Web3 gives people the chance to reclaim ownership of their own data and assets.
“I think both the metaverse and web3 will certainly represent the future of fan engagement because it’s giving fans brand new ways to engage with the sport.”
Kahlen Macaulay – creating the lifelong fan via social media
Sports organisations need to recognise that social media is one of the most effective ways to engage with younger generations of fans, Snapchat’s Senior Manager of Sports Partnerships informed us, as fandoms are formed at an early age.
“Sport is unique and fandom in particular is formed at a young age. Whether that be a passion for a sport, team or increasingly so, an athlete. The power of having a lifelong fan of your sport is often overlooked. However the way young people want to consume sport is very different. Mobile first and on their terms.”
Matthew McGrory – Cleaning up online content for athletes, fans and followers
Much of our features focused on the benefits of technology, particularly Web3, for sports, but the internet is of course not always a safe place, and Arwen.AI CEO and Co-Founder, Matthew McGrory outlined how and why his firm aims to counter negative content.
“Undoubtedly brands and athletes want to show they are aligned with their values – and they won’t accept their online environments being full of toxic and abusive content. So we do help our clients to communicate the change they’re making – partly for public image, but also because 95% of people welcome it. They deserve credit for making the change, but as I’ve set out there are lots of additional benefits. It really is a win-win.”