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TikTok: The platform of choice for young football fans

Social media platform TikTok is quickly becoming a primary service for reaching young football fans across the world.

TikTok is used to create a variety of short video clips, with millions of users engaging with content every day.

The company continues to grow at a rapid pace, with over 800 million app downloads in 2020, beating rivals such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the process.

Football leagues and clubs all over the world have utilised the platform to build their global brands.

Spain’s La Liga has reached 1.9 million followers in a year and a half of activity, with the demographic of this audience notably young.

“Our followers are young people (mostly part of Generation Z) from all over the world, people who want to discover content that they will not find anywhere else,” Alfredo Bermejo, director of digital strategy at La Liga, told the La Liga Newsletter.

“Everything we post is specially designed for this audience with the aim of entertaining them and creating engagement. We want them to know that following La Liga on TikTok is to consume content from the best league in the world.”

Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are the two most followed clubs on TikTok and have increased the profile of football on the service, but creating campaigns that global audiences have engaged with has been just as effective.

“We have created two of the biggest and most successful (social media) challenges in the history of TikTok,” Bermejo explained.

“Every week there are new trends that we pay attention to in order to remain an active part of the community.”

A recent initiative encouraged followers of the La Liga TikTok account to replicate the different goal celebrations of players in the competition.

Videos were posted with the hashtag #ViveLaLiga, with Bermejo revealing the campaign earned over 63 million views and trended in 21 countries.

These types of figures offered an added value for La Liga’s global partners, including Puma and Santander.

Soraya Castellanos Hidalgo, partnerships manager of TikTok in Spain, believes initiatives like this showcase where the social media platform thrives.

“Our mission is to inspire and offer our community a space for creative expression and a fun and positive experience with an enormous diversity of content,” she said.

Other La Liga content on their TikTok account is made attractive by a strong use of music, alongside an informal tone for the most part.

Bermejo explained that for the emerging young audience, all the content related to the league’s clubs, from training sessions to the way the players are dressed, is vital to make an impression.

“TikTok has allowed us to get closer to Generation Z and thus understand the tastes and preferences that these fans have today,” he stated.

“This also helps us to analyse what the fan of the future will be like.”

A new fan’s first contact with football “is likely not a 90-minute televised match, but a video with highlights and music on TikTok, or with images of player challenges during training,” Bermejo claimed.

Sevilla FC has used TikTok since June of 2019 and now has over 275,000 followers on the social media site.

The club emphasised that posts on this social network feel genuine and is a major reason why the platform is the global service of choice for a younger demographic.

“The change we’ve noticed is the way that the content published is natural, much more real and less edited, plus it is generated directly on the mobile phone,” explained the club’s social media manager, José Ángel Risco.

“Consumption is a lot quicker as the users want to see something that lasts 15 to 20 seconds maximum,” he added.

“It’s becoming a social network that also feeds other platforms such as Twitter or YouTube, especially with videos that go viral. There are differences in the tone that we don’t have on channels such as Twitter or Facebook.

“Those who follow us on TikTok are a lot younger. We’re trying to connect with users who are interested in sport and in football through a tone that isn’t as focussed on the up-to-the-minute sports news.”

TikTok continues to build on its momentum as a social media phenomenon for young people, with football fans no exception.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Los Angeles FC teams up with Foundation Fighting Blindness to host vision impaired fans

Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC is teaming up with the Foundation Fighting Blindness to host blind and low vision fans at LAFC matches at Banc of California Stadium this season.

Leveraging the team’s partnership with audio technology Mixhalo, fans will have access to crystal-clear, real-time play-by-play in English, featuring the call of ESPN LA’s Dave Denholm and the Spanish audio featuring Armando Aguayo on 980 AM La Mera Mera.

All fans at Banc of California can now use their phone, headphones and the free mobile Mixhalo app to listen to Mixhalo’s high-quality live audio for an immersive experience while watching at the stadium.

As the first-ever MLS team to adopt the technology, LAFC announced its collaboration with Mixhalo in December 2020. With fans now returning to Banc of California Stadium at full capacity, Mixhalo audio will be available to all fans at every LAFC home game throughout the remainder of the 2022 season.

“LAFC matches are for everyone,” LAFC Co-President and CBO Larry Freedman told lafc.com.

“We are constantly focusing on improving our fan experience and making our games more accessible to all. We are proud to welcome fans from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community this season to experience LAFC matches in person through Mixhalo’s incredible technology.”

Guests from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community will attend select LAFC home games and have the opportunity to meet with Denholm and Aguayo before the game.

“We are honoured to be partnering with LAFC in making the games more accessible for our blind and low vision community,” Jason Menzo said to lafc.com, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

“We look forward to the technology rolling out into other stadiums, not only in the United States, but globally.

Mixhalo Head of Sports Doug Holtzman added:

“Mixhalo elevates the live sports experience for everyone, and we’re thrilled that vision impaired LAFC fans can enjoy a better experience at matches this season.”

“With live calls from Dave Denholm directly in your ear – it really doesn’t get much better than that.”

FIFA and EA Sports end 30-year deal

As reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, gaming giant EA Sports and world football governing body FIFA have parted ways.

The partnership dated back to 1993, when FIFA International Soccer was launched for the SEGA Genesis.

Their current partnership was set to expire at the conclusion of the Qatar World Cup, with a new deal aiming to branch out into new areas – including NFTs.

It was reported that EA made a ‘significant offer’ for an eight-year exclusivity deal with FIFA for all of its Esports and gaming rights. However, the deal was knocked back, according to Reuters, as FIFA did not want the rights all with one company.

FIFA 23 will be the last game made in collaboration between the two organisations, set to release in late September this year, worldwide.

The FIFA series was estimated at the start of 2021 to have sold over 325 million units, according to ForbesFIFA 18 is the equal 40th highest selling video game of all time, estimated at 24 million units across all platforms.

FIFA confirmed it would still produce video games with third party developers, while EA will rebrand the FIFA series under the title EA Sports FC. The new series would include licensees such as the Premier League and LaLiga, which at this stage has authentic coverage, as all players are face scanned and the full broadcast packages akin to real life are featured in the game.

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