A recent study by the European Club Association has identified six distinct types of football fans. There is no such thing as ‘the football fan’, but rather different types of fans based on observed behaviors and attitudes. Clubs, leagues, and sports media will gain a better understanding of different needs.
The segments are classified according to the fan’s primary route into the sport. We can distinguish six segments: Football Fanatics, Club Loyalists, Icon Imitators, FOMO Followers, Main Eventers, and Tag Alongs.
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) Followers, who make up the largest group, see football as a social currency and conversation point and engage with clubs through digital platforms. Football Fanatics and Club Loyalists are the most engaged and demonstrate traditional and digital behaviors. Icon Imitators follow football for the players themselves, and Main Eventers/Tag Alongs have a more detached football habit but can still be targeted through the correct communications and marketing. It is important to note that most fans in each segment claim to follow football relatively closely.
Let’s take a closer look at the six segments:
1. Football Fanatics (11%)
Football Fanatics follow football for the game.
- Follow football in its entirety with strong emotional engagement.
- Prefer going to the stadium to experience a sense of togetherness.
- Attached to their club but engage widely beyond this.
- Believe that football clubs should help to make the world a better place.
2. Club Loyalists (14%)
Club Loyalists follow football for their club.
- Highly engaged, long-term football fans.
- Emotionally invested in their club, which helps provide their identity.
- Interested only in higher levels of football.
- Follow football for a sense of community and quality matches.
3. Icon Imitators (11%)
Icon Imitators follow football for the player.
- The youngest segment with moderate to strong football interest.
- Follow specific players and find them relatable.
- Prefer playing football to watching.
- Enjoy big games featuring the world’s biggest and best footballers.
4. FOMO Followers (27%)
FOMO Followers follow football for their friends.
- Follow football for social currency – something to talk about.
- Frequently engage with football but less emotionally engaged.
- Prefer to follow the big teams and European football.
5. Main Eventers (19%)
Main Eventers follow football for the occasion.
- Moderate fans are less bothered about the result and more interested in the event.
- Low engagement frequency, which increases around big matches/tournaments.
- Typically older and slightly more likely to be female.
6. Tag Alongs (19%)
Tag Alongs follow football for their loved ones.
- Lightest football fans, with low emotional and intellectual engagement.
- Interest prompted by friends/family or national team performance.
- Typically older and more likely to be female.
Read the full report: Fan of the Future – Defining Modern Football Fandom