By Vicente Navarro, VP of Business Development at AC&M Group
Way before the first World Cup in 1930 & UEFA Cup in 1960, there was the Copa America – the oldest international soccer tournament in the world, played for the first time in 1916. Now in 2016, the U.S. will host the first ever Copa America outside of Latin America’s borders.
The countdown is on for the U.S. to take center stage for the biggest soccer event of the century: Copa America Centenario. An unparalleled best-in-class event, after 1994 FIFA World Cup, the Copa America Centenario will become a milestone in America’s history for embracing diversity, sports and tradition.
This momentous soccer showdown takes place with matches throughout the U.S., including games in key Hispanic hubs like Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, NY, for a total of 24 cities, where soccer matches will connect with Hispanics from all nationalities in a unique and unforgettable way. This is by design. Promoters and marketers for Copa America Centenario recognize that the Hispanic enthusiasm for soccer will drive massive attendance, enormous viewership and attachment to the event.
This is not counting the millions of soccer fans following the tournament in Mexico and Latin America. And even around the world since elite players from the best clubs will participate with their national soccer teams. International soccer sensations like Messi, James Rodrigues, Chicharito and Howard, just to mention a few, will ignite the Copa America Centenario with their power on and off the field since they all own massive marketing and social media appeal to Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike. In fact, many of the top soccer players are among the world’s most followed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The players mentioned above combine for more than 200 million social media followers. With virtually all the biggest stars and all the biggest teams on one stage, it is easy to see why people will tune-in in droves.
By the numbers, game attendance is expected to surpass 1.5 million spectators and somewhere between 15-22 million more people will watch the tournament on TV or online. Considering soccer’s appeal within the Hispanic community, it is clear that Copa America is a premier cultural event for Hispanics in 2016. To give you some perspective, last year’s Copa America in Chile surpassed all global sporting events on Twitter — including the NBA finals and the Super Bowl.
Hosted in the U.S. and broadcasted across two major platforms, Univision and Fox Sports, brands and advertisers recognize the impact and reach this monumental event has among soccer enthusiasts and, specifically, among US Hispanics. The Copa America Centenario’s average per game viewership on Univision is projected to top viewership records (generating more viewers than the 2014 FIFA World Cup).
Sponsorship investment in Major League Soccer (MLS), U.S. Soccer and other North American soccer teams and events is projected to total $333 million in 2016. This reflects a 9.2% increase from 2015, according to IEG research. Corporate giants Coca-Cola, Sprint, State Farm and Nike have all reached sponsorship deals for Copa America Centenario.
However, companies don’t have to wait until huge events like this take place to incorporate soccer into their marketing outreach. The soccer industry is lucrative year-round and an easy way to score a gol with Hispanic soccer fans. Whether it is supporting a local youth league, sponsoring an MLS team or teaming up with players to help in the community --- soccer is an opportunity your brand simply cannot afford to pass up when connecting with Hispanics consumers.