THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

The beautiful game, that comes with a side of hugs

Mastercard Presents: Kit Beats. (Photo courtesy: Screenshot Mastercard Video)
Mastercard Presents: Kit Beats. Photo courtesy: Screenshot Mastercard Video

Being a passionate football fan in the stands is almost as draining as being a player, according to 91% of supporters in Turkey, who say watching and celebrating throughout a game is just as emotionally exhausting as playing.

This figure forms the basis of one of the most extensive studies into European fan typologies ever developed. Commissioned by UEFA Champions League headline sponsor Mastercard, over 14,000 people were surveyed across nine markets to celebrate the passion of football fans as they approach the final of this year’s tournament this weekend.

The research into the emotional typologies of fans revealed that sore throats, cuddles and outright mockery are all on display at football matches around the continent. 44% of respondents in Germany admit to screaming when their team scores, while the French go in for an emotional cuddle (62%) and fans in Turkey take jabs at the opposing supporters (19%).

European fans cite their team’s performance as having an impact on their mood; 79% in Sweden and 82% in Germany. Three in five fans surveyed in Turkey even turn to religion, saying a silent prayer during moments of tension.

With mood swings, come racing hearts as fans attest to an increased heartrate when the stadium gets tense; 58% in Portugal, 52% in the Netherlands and 46% in Spain.

To further highlight the role of emotion in football, Mastercard has developed a new technology which allows one person to feel another’s heartbeat in real time. The tech is built into uniforms, and could allow fans in stadia (or, in the future, at home) to feel the emotion and heartbeat of players in real time as they play.

Trialled at The UEFA Champions League semi-final earlier this month, the technology connected mascot uniforms to their parents in the grounds. The mascot experience gives children the opportunity to enter the pitch with their footballing heroes before a match starts, and this new tech allowed the families of those lucky few kids to share in the priceless experience.

Rose Beaumont, Senior Vice President Business Enablement and European Communications commented, “We wanted to look at our fans, and their reactions, to show everyone the passion they feel at a football match, as they connect with the team and their fellow supporters, is as real and raw in the stands (or by the TV!) as it is on the pitch. For the final in Madrid we hope that everyone, no matter how they display their emotions, has a priceless experience. Innovation is at the heart of everything we do here at Mastercard and we’re committed to ensuring that these innovations improve experiences for our customers. The fans in the stadium are an integral part of each game and ‘Kit Beats’ will eventually allow them to feel the impact that they have on a player as they spur them on throughout a match.”

As Mastercard develop the technology for wider use, bosses and HR departments beware, the number of people in the UK calling in “sick” to work (18%) is set to rise as football fans race to their home stadiums.

The new technology, created as part of a partnership between Mastercard and The Lion Company has been in development since May 2018. The United Kingdom first was showcased at the UEFA Champions League semi-final game earlier this month. The technology works through two smart devices, connected by a transmitter, sending and receiving immediate signals sent by one wearer’s heart to another**.

Chartered sports psychologist, Bradley Busch says, “Football is such a special and unique sport, mainly because of the close connection that the fans feel towards their team. For many, it really is more than just a game. The rollercoaster of emotions that fans feel can be incredibly intense and makes them feel connected to both each other and their team.”

Team work makes the dream work and over three quarters of respondents agree that fans are just as much a part of a team as the players (73% in France).

39% of fans across Europe, agree that their fellow supporters are like their family – 68% in Italy. This invention has the ability to increase feelings of community and togetherness among them during games.