Thinking Football Webinar: "Internationalisation of Portuguese Football" (PART 2)
The international evolution of Portuguese Football under analysis
On the same day, May 5th, another webinar was held, on the subject "Internationalisation of Portuguese Football" and brought together the Secretary of State for Internationalisation, Eurico Brilhante Dias, with Miguel Farinha, EY partner, Tiago Madureira, Executive Director at Liga Portugal, Fernando Seara, lawyer and with a profound knowledge of the football phenomenon, and Nuno Botelho, President of the Porto Trade Association and Director of the famous Essência do Vinho trade fair.
In this session, also moderated by Sérgio Krithinas, Assistant Director at Record, it was discussed the cross-border business opportunities for a Portuguese Football that does not lack talent, but is also followed, increasingly, abroad, thanks to the players who play in our Professional competitions. This is a path that should be further pursued, according to the speakers.
INTERNATIONALISATION OF PORTUGUESE FOOTBALL
Tiago Madureira, Executive Director at Liga Portugal
" The internationalisation issue is very complex from the outset, but I will try to briefly summarise some ideas here. This was outlined as one of the five fundamental strategic axes of President Pedro Proença's term of office, even though he was aware that there was, beforehand, lack of necessary resources and tools to execute it in a simple manner. Since we can't control the game itself. We must export some talent, but also be able to bring in some emerging talent and value it here."
"We have a national team that became European champions, renowned players, and the best player and coach in the world on a recurrent basis. I doubt that there are activities with this level of notoriety in our country. Even so, our League is still disconnected from the dimension of Portuguese football in the world. Instead, we see other leagues with the ability to generate revenue outside their traditional markets. And the asymmetry from the Big-5 compared to all the others is growing and compromises the competitive ability of our clubs and the sustainability of our activity."
Miguel Farinha, EY partner
"In Portugal there is a market of 10 million people, therefore growth has to come through internationalisation. The Liga has that plan well established. We need to look for new markets, new audiences if we want to increase revenues. Looking at the other markets in Europe, there is an excessive commercial use of the international market by Portuguese football."
"The French league has failed to improve the conditions of audiovisual contracts. But as I mentioned there is an excessive commercial use of international rights. In Portugal, I don't think there is any margin for national growth either, while internationally there is. In Portugal, there is no centralisation of television rights. There are clubs selling their games. And it is necessary to work on the television rights as a whole."
"Internationalisation is a fundamental step for Football in Portugal, and it is one that the League has clearly identified in its strategic plan for this term, for the 2019-23 period."
Fernando Seara, Lawyer and Professor
"I think the internationalisation aspect of the League is always present and relevant. The next three years will be decisive, at all levels. It will be crucial to have a strong strategy for internationalisation, based on a strong corporate identity. This implies the creation and effectiveness of the entity that will manage the centralisation of television rights, where Liga Portugal will naturally have an important role to play. In this sense, internationalisation should be based on fundamental principles such as attractiveness, authenticity of the spectacle, and the promotion of our best assets".
"When I speak of references, these can be external to Portuguese Football, such as the search for the Iranian fan that likes Taremi, or internal references, such as the recently reported "Bazuca Ronaldo".
"As I have already mentioned, corporate identity will also be key if the League and its competitions are to be marketed in a way that is common to all those involved, even if some Societies don't like it or agree. We must not forget that the pandemic changed everything, and created a sense of uneasiness in everyone, so I believe that centralisation will be essential to export and enhance our product, because a common entity cannot ensure its resale. In that regard, we must have the ability to materialise these external and internal benchmarks."
"Portuguese clubs, once and for all, have to work together. Without a strategic and business unity, the process of internationalisation of Portuguese Football may be compromised".
Eurico Brilhante Dias, Secretary of State for Internationalisation
"We have a quality product in our hands. We have good wines, we produce better cork than in the past, and we have a good football product. The country needs to go international. We are a small domestic market that produces. We can't just solely export talent. With the debt amount the country has, we need to get money from abroad. The Portuguese economy and society must be willing to be more open and trade with the world, in order to improve the quality of life here."
"Portuguese football is a world-class product, probably the best known in the world. There is no better ice-breaker for meetings than to mention Cristiano Ronaldo. There isn't a single member of any government from another country who doesn't come up to me and say: "You are from Cristiano Ronaldo's country". And it's not just Ronaldo, we have great players in great teams, from great European teams. As well as coaches. And a national team that is currently sitting in the Top10, even Top5 in the world, I believe. We have a highly advanced youth academy and a very competitive league. I'm no expert in this matter, but I do think we have a very competitive league. But in order to sell better, we have to be able to reach out to other distribution channels, primarily the TV rights."
"We have and had great players, who are still great ambassadors for the clubs they have represented. And we have markets, don't get me wrong, but which are "natural" markets. First and foremost, Portuguese-speakers, emigrants and Portuguese descendants across the world are themselves consumers of Portuguese football. And in addition to the television rights, we also have products that can be traded internationally. Football is undoubtedly a leading export market, but we can still do more. And the centralisation of television rights is, without any doubt, the right decision, in order for us to grab the attention from abroad. Therefore, it is our obligation to provide assistance in this sector."
Nuno Botelho, President of the Porto Trade Association
"It is absolutely essential to work together in order to go international. Using wine as a reference, there is an international wine association, very well known in Portugal, which has the ability to bring together many wines from various countries around the world. It includes French, Argentine, Spanish wines, and the Portuguese are in no way inferior. If we want to internationalise, we will have to have a common policy, we will have to be united. This doesn't mean there's a bad relationship between everyone. It is important to have a single strategy."
"It seems to me that football should capitalise on its resources to be a reference for our country as a way of catalysing Portugal's reputation. But it also seems to me that there is a need for more credibility and trust in Portuguese Football. In general, much of what sports agents do is not normal, I don't see it in any other industry. There are constant criticisms and accusations. There must be a culture of unity, but also - I repeat - of respect and credibility in the Football industry. Without generating trust or credibility, internationalisation cannot happen. Football deserves respect and has to be seen with different eyes by the political entities, but the sport also has to create respect and trust. Football is important, but it's not the most important thing in our lives."
INVESTMENT IN INTERNATIONALISATION
"We have invested a lot in this aspect. When someone in the world, on a Sunday afternoon, chooses to watch the Portuguese league, I believe their number one reason will be the quality of our game. . And we have been very concerned with issues that influence the quality of our game. First and foremost, the quality of the pitches. As well as the lighting and the placement of the advertising boards. So we are improving the overall audiovisual product, whereby the football quality presented on the pitch is key."
"We have a set of national markets where we can grow, such as the PALOP countries. Still, one of the great strengths for development are the foreign players who join our league. We have several markets already identified, partnerships sealed that allow to enhance our League and generate new revenues."
"We all know that there is no business sector with the appeal and content like football. In terms of media impact, there are 3 sports newspapers, countless sports channels, general media and others that live off Football and need to generate income. Football is a driving force that bring over new sponsors. It can be seen as a crucial ally of another sector to generate revenue. This match can be an opportunity to leverage both sectors. These synergies have to be positively used."
DOES THE PORTUGUESE FOOTBALL ATMOSPHERE HINDER INTERNATIONAL PROJECTION?
"The problem of Portuguese Football has a name: authenticity. Now and then, this problem leads to impacts on sporting integrity and competitive disparity, and as long as this unique aspect of Portuguese football is not solved, it will be difficult to convey an image that is appealing to foreigners.
"The solution lies, without a doubt, in institutional cooperation. If there is institutional cooperation, there is unity, which will subsequently result in a more authentic atmosphere. This scenario will undoubtedly boost the promotion of Portuguese Football and, consequently, will result in a much greater capacity to successfully sell our Football abroad".
UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN CLUBS
"In the sporting domain, where clubs compete, there is an insufficient collective strategic thinking. It is incomprehensible that, on a daily basis, the football industry undermines its own value. However, the prospect that we will have a centralised model will mean that we can work on this in a more collaborative way.
"There is a whole possibility of collective compromise. And it seems to me that there are many more dots connecting the clubs than what people might thing. The capacity that clubs have to self-regulate is quite interesting, as they are very demanding with themselves. And there is, in fact, a deeper strategic alignment that is wider than people are aware of."
"We will only enter the world of centralisation in seven years' time. It will give time to prepare that process, we are placing the responsibility on the clubs and the league. They have to work together and along with the Federation. It is necessary for clubs to work together for the good of football. The clubs work very closely with Liga Portugal to jointly solve their problems."
"There is a wider problem at the top of the pyramid that usually spreads a message of insurgency, while the people at the bottom, usually work very well and have a great sense of understanding. We can't spend our time stomping the top, with that behaviour we damage football as a whole."
"Despite all the limitations that may exist, it is a very attractive sector and it would be unfair not to say that it has the capacity to capture and manage excellent and qualified human resources. This professionalisation process is evident. We have to think that alone we won't be able to succeed. This path has to be paved together. The internationalisation strategy must involve exactly that, through unification."
"It is critical to use the tools that the sector has, positive and non-toxic ones. But of course everyone has to be open to this joint-work and look at it as a business opportunity. Bringing sectors together is very important to boost other businesses along with football, which is one of the most appealing sectors of all."
"We're not just talking about what we can add to the experience of our game, but how we can get them to choose our sport. It's different. F1 is a very interesting example, which through a set of additional content besides the races, has managed to influence the choice of watching all the F1 spectacle on weekends. The underlying problem is the perception of what we're selling."
"In the digital environment, without the centralisation of rights, there is a lot that we cannot monitor. I'll give you an example: recently, the front page of the main Honduran newspaper was covered by players from Boavista FC and CD Nacional. And we have made some contacts here, in the digital scope, and we have carried out some actions in Honduras. Thanks to the Honduran athletes, the Portuguese League is being followed more in Honduras than the Spanish League, for example. We are able to target specific content to certain countries because we have a digital team that does that. But then we have to be able to monitor, as non-centralisation hinders us from making that leap. We have little data. But there is a whole range of potential and, in the digital world, we have been able to target some specific content from foreign players to their home countries."
"We have a very good example in the Premier League. Today, Wolverhampton have many Portuguese and, apart from their huge investment, they have created an exclusive communication department for the Portuguese territory, as a result of the team's growth. For example, Messi is Argentinian but none of us follow the Argentina League because of him. We follow the Brazilian League because of Jorge Jesus and Abel Ferreira. The objective is to continue to raise the notoriety of our League."
"Young people don't watch the games like we do anymore. They spend their time on their smartphones and not watching what's going on, be it on TV or at the stadium. The League has done a great job and the clubs realise that they have to become more professional and create the necessary structures. For example, everyone is already focusing on social media. We have to attract a younger audience and that means engaging new markets through digital. This is achieved through the creation of more digital strategies."
"Football is not like Futsal where there are more goals and things happening. Each game has a different pace. We need to see more information. The future is about providing more information. We live in an information society. We need to bring more distinctive information."
"I wonder why we can't take the example from other sports to football. For example, like in F1 where we have access to the heart rate of the pilots, there is that information, why not share it with the public? I believe that we have to provide more information. As well as the effective playing time, which also need to be revaluated. There are other ways that you can approach the game to make it more attractive."
Eurico Brilhante Dias
In Mexico, they talk about FC Porto and the Mexican players of FC Porto. About Corona or even Herrera before moving to Atletico Madrid. In Iran, people are unaware of the number of Taremi's followers. In Angola, Gelson Dala is seen as a real star. And like these, there are many other cases. And, therefore, it is necessary to enhance and provide a transactional service, for a specific client that has an interest in Portuguese football from a completely different perspective from ours, as we see it from a Sporting, a Benfica, a Porto or Boavista fan and so on."
"That potential increases through centralisation and then producing the service and being able to make it available, in a much more flexible way, on Netflix and on all platforms, on your mobile phone, with Facebook, Twitter, and so on. And that will generate an outflow of potential new clients, who enter Portuguese football for different reasons."
"The way of consuming football is gradually changing. I watch the whole 90 minutes of the game. My children, who also like football, watch it intermittently, with access to different media. And that is why the centralisation of rights has a unique potential in terms of product placement. Because that's the way we sell our product. Taremi in Iran, Dala in Angola, Porro in Spain, Samaris in Greece, and so on. And that approach will allow us to have a product range that goes far beyond the 90 minutes of the game and therefore allow us to operate in many more countries than we would have expected at the beginning.
"For many years, football was overly a male-centered industry. And there is no economic activity in the world that disregards half of its potential consumers. That doesn't make sense. Economically it makes no sense. For example: will I only sell wine to men? Or shoes? So the potential to reach out to new sectors, especially where football has made a lesser incursion, and where women's football also plays an important role, because it brings new female fans and get them closer to the game."
PORTUGUESE FOOTBALL IN 10 YEARS
Eurico Brilhante Dias
"We all know the reality of the Barcelona and Real Madrid museums, two institutions with worldwide notoriety. And naturally these very much live off the tourists who visit these cities. But I must say that Sporting CP, SL Benfica and FC Porto, in their stadiums and museums, also have many visitors, both tourists and emigrants who go to their teams' stadiums when they come, for example, on holiday."
"In 10 years' time, I would like to have the possibility to watch, for example, in the People's Republic of China, a Portuguese League match, which would be watched on a streaming platform, which would be played according to a very particular set of characteristics of interest to the viewer. And I would like, in those circumstances, to be an attentive viewer, knowing that, next to me, there could be another Portuguese person, not watching the game I was watching, but the game of his club, playing at the same time, being broadcast on another Streaming platform."
"And where we could, in the People's Republic of China, be watching that product and, from there, be able to generate revenue from services, which would then generate revenue that would pour into the Portuguese economy and allow Portuguese teams to be increasingly competitive, from an international point of view and, at the same time, be able to increase the export of their services."
QUALITY OF THE FOOTBALL COACHES DEVELOPMENT IN PORTUGAL
Eurico Brilhante Dias
"There is one story that I am going to reveal here. Portugal staunchly defended the candidacy of Engineer António Guterres for the Secretary-General of the United Nations position. And, as you know, in the General Assembly of the United Nations every country votes. Each country gets one vote and they are all worth the same, both Germany and small countries, for example those in the Pacific, with a small number of inhabitants. At one point, we had an Ambassador who visited this group of countries to praise the Engineer and ask to vote for António Guterres. As usual, countries are asking for support for their candidacies. And there is one specific country, which of course I won't reveal, that says "what we certainly would benefit from is for you to send a Portuguese coach to our national team."
"This is the perfect example of how notoriety and the ability to train our coaches is also a very important asset. And particularly Sporting CP, SL Benfica and FC Porto, are good prospects for setting up academies abroad, to demonstrate how we prepare our teams. This is another source of export, which is not about exporting our values, but the technology associated with training and qualification."
Click here to access the summary of the first part of the webinar.
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