This afternoon, the waiting for fans and professional players will come to an end as national coach Vladimir Petkovic and national director Pierluigi Tami announce the squad for the European Football Championship at 1.30. The duo will explain in a video conference which 28 players will be going into the "bubble" five days later. No one will be allowed in or out of the training camp in Bad Ragaz any longer: to minimise the risk of a Covid-19 infection, players, coaches and the support staff will be hermetically sealed off. Although the coronavirus situation on the old continent is gradually easing and vaccination rates are rising, football needs a strict hygiene concept. This is the only way that the Championship – already postponed by a year due to the pandemic – can be held at the second time of asking. UEFA, European football's governing body, is sticking with its original plan of staging the tournament in more than one country. The idea of marking the 60th year of its existence by spreading the matches across twelve different countries had been mooted long before the pandemic struck.
The ball will actually start rolling in eleven cities on 11 June, because Dublin was unable or unwilling to give the guarantee demanded by UEFA that spectators would be allowed into the stadium. The same applies for Bilbao, with Valencia stepping into the breach as a Spanish venue. However, "sold out" signs are only expected to go up for the Puskás Aréna in Budapest, as capacities in the other stadia have been limited. If the coronavirus situation allows, 50% and a quarter of seats respectively in Baku and Rome, where Switzerland will be playing its group matches, will be occupied. At any rate, UEFA will have to lower its sights for what is a major source of revenue. At the 2016 Championship, ticket sales accounted for 14% of total revenue (see graphs). It is all the more important for the organisers, then, that the broadcasting rights for the tournament remain highly coveted – they are the fast-growing primary source of income in football. At the 2016 tournament, TV and radio broadcasters paid more than EURbn 1 to UEFA for the first time. This figure had thus grown by a factor of almost 20 within the space of two decades.
This time too, the tournament will capture the imagination of the world. Championship matches are watched in well over 200 countries. IMG, the agency responsible for marketing the rights, anticipates that more than five billion people in total will watch the live broadcasts. This huge reach allows UEFA to score with sponsors as well. The continental association pulled in just under EURbn 0.5 from the sale of commercial rights to the 2016 tournament. Companies can profit from football fever in a number of different ways. In addition to five official sponsors of UEFA national team football, for instance, there are six official sponsors of the upcoming Championship itself. These are joined by five licence-holders. A glance at the list of partners makes the global character of the football event clear. They include four Chinese companies in the shape of Alipay, Hisense, TikTok and Vivo, while global western consumer brands such as Coca-Cola, Heineken, Adidas and Booking.com are also on board.
Alongside a boost to their own profile, the companies involved can also hope for a little kick to the economy from the Championship. This year that is truer than ever. In many places, after all, the tournament is coinciding with a successive loosening of coronavirus restrictions. Whether the purchase of a replica kit, that new television for the "stadium at home" experience, a beer for the fridge or even travel to the venue, more than a few fans are expected to ramp up their own consumer spending over the next few weeks. And after the final on 11 July, it won't even be two weeks before the next supreme sporting occasion, with the Summer Olympic Games starting in Tokyo on 23 July. The two events and their enormous social and economic impact should keep stock market players occupied as well. Sport could turn out to be an additional economic pillar alongside looser monetary policy and government spending programmes. Whether outfitters, sponsors or licensees, those companies directly involved should come particularly into focus.
Source: UEFA financial report 2015/16 Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.
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