Written by Raphael El Brico *
Looking forward to a good football match, something rare lately on Brazilian soil – almost as rare as vaccinations – I waited, in the middle of lunch, the match that was being played in England between Manchester United and Liverpool. Although the tournament is practically won, why not see Salah, Mane and Rashford among the other big stars on the field?
I was surprised when the news came that the match was not going to take place. The reason: Manchester United fans protested outside and inside the legendary Old Trafford Park against the Glazers that own the club.
With armed confusion, the game came to a halt. This reminded me of many good classes I had with Professor Ari Rocco during my MSc in Sports Management.
In the distant 2015 year, I ventured into the North American lands to deepen my Master’s research and went to drink a little water that makes North American leagues promoted to the public and box office phenomena.
At UMASS (University of Massachusetts), I participated in a briefing program at the famous Isenberg School of Management, which has a partnership with the legendary Boston Red Sox, one of the most traditional franchises of MLB, the major national baseball league in a country.
Among the cases with massive numbers and global impact, I asked myself during all the seasons: Why in Brazil not cancel all of our tournaments, turn them into tournaments and run them the same way Americans do? It will definitely be a success.
Quickly, in a conversation during one of the breaks, Professor M. Ari answered me: Culture, Rafa. Every country has its own country. We will not achieve the same results by simply repeating a model.
With a saturated market in England, the owners of the main English teams, many of whom had an American mindset to promote the sport, found themselves in a position to explore new markets and gain worldwide audiences. After all, these clubs need to increase their revenues and return the amount invested in their acquisitions.
The truth is that these billionaires, unsuspecting or arrogant, have forgotten that football is a religion in England. And you cannot play with religion.
When the big English clubs got involved in discussing the European Premier League, they influenced the big hornets. In addition to being indifferent to spoiling today’s greatest possible classics in world football, they have ignored the tradition of regional duels, rivalries and the true meaning of Saturday’s ball to the English. They have forgotten that English football was born, grown and developed on very different cultural pillars from those in the United States.
Neither here in Brazil, which is still in its infancy, nor in England, which has the largest club league in the world, we cannot ignore the culture and society factor in our analyzes, be it clubs or traditional companies.
The message remains for Russian, American, Thai and other business leaders who are investing in football clubs in England. In the UK, respect the cultural rules and don’t touch two things: the Queen and football.
* Raphael Albreco is a researcher and professor of communication and marketing courses in sport.