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Football Consumption in a fringe nation -

The case of New Zealand fans travelling to the 2006 World Cup in Germany


Tim Breitbarth, Francisco Conejo, University of Otago,
Magdalena Florek, Poznan University of Economics


Abstract

This practice paper is based on the study of New Zealand football fans travelling to the 2006
FIFA World Cup in Germany. It offers empirical findings that help to close the gap in the
sports marketing literature about fan consumption in football "fringe nations". The aim is to
identify a chain of particular factors that influence fan motivations and their consumption
experience. Data shows that the event itself is the highest scoring pull factor whereas eustress
is the dominant push factor. Perceived safety of the destination is of critical relevance.
Avenues for further research and football marketers' decisions are suggested.


Introduction

Football, the world's most popular sport, has emerged as a major industry around the world
over the last two decades (Morrow, 2003). This is demonstrated by soaring revenues for top
European clubs and major leagues (Smith, 2007), governing bodies (FIFA, 2006), and related
businesses such as travel (Gibson, 1998) and football merchandising (Sport Marketing
Quarterly, 2006). Consequently, there is considerable interest in fan behaviour and
consumption as a means to understand respective sports markets. However, such research has
rarely looked into the specific context of football "fringe nations" (Bandyopadhyaya, 2006),
specifically motives and behaviour of fans from such countries visiting the FIFA World Cup.

Despite being New Zealand's most popular sport amongst young people between the ages of
five and 17 (SPARC, 2006), football suffers from a far lower public profile than other sports,
in particular rugby. The latter that has been adopted as the country's national game (Gouth,
2006). While the ongoing success of the All Blacks further helped to entrench its dominant
position in the New Zealand psyche, the national football team, the All Whites, has fared
poorly, making it into the spotlight just once when it qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
Other than that, the team has remained fairly unsuccessful and inconspicuous, currently
ranked 127th in the world (FIFA, 2007).

The success of a sport, and its related business products and services is directly and indirectly
based on its fan population. Directly, fans hold financial (e.g. merchandising sale, ticketing)
and social (e.g. identification, narratives) resources crucial for the sustainability of a game.
Indirectly they are sources of benefits for other stakeholders (e.g. sponsors) and are activators
(e.g. motivate participation) of the game. Thus, understanding fans as consumers, including
motivational and behavioural factors, is essential for the competitiveness of a sport (Shank,
2005) and related sports businesses (Kurtzman & Zauhar, 2005).

The paper investigates the motivations and behaviour of New Zealand football fans travelling
to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. It is part of a larger research project conducted in
cooperation with New Zealand Football (NZF; formerly New Zealand Soccer) in 2006
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(Breitbarth, 2006). There is considerable potential for football in New Zealand to raise its
profile and competitiveness. However, while focusing on administrative and technical aspects
of the game, fans are largely absent from NZF's strategic considerations (New Zealand
Football, 2006). The project endeavoured to describe New Zealand supporters behaviour in
respect to overseas matches and events, especially its relevance for sports travel products, in
order to inform domestic marketing practice and football management.


Literature Review

The paper draws on research from the areas of fan motivations, event sport tourism and fan
consumption behaviour. The longitudinal study provides insights into an area widely
overlooked in sports marketing and event sport tourism: motivations of fans from football
"fringe nations" that visit the FIFA World Cup (Bandyopadhyaya, 2006). The event is
described as the "pinnacle of mega sports events" (Matos, 2006). It is important to note that
the All Whites did not qualify, because it removes the "team identification" factor from the
equation. Research in dominant football countries often implicitly assumes the identification
of fans with a participating team in the event under investigation, and is referred to as a key
source of pleasure and benefit to fans (Richardson, 2004).

In their major review of sport consumer literature, Stewart, Smith and Nicholson (2003) lay
out the difficulties of describing and classifying sport consumers. This is because of multiple
and interdependent cognitive, affective and behavioural factors, and refers to more general
analysis of how consumers consume (e.g. Holt, 1995; Belk, 1988). People consume sports for
different reasons, and being a sports fan embraces more than attending and observing a
sporting event (J ones, 1997). However, Stewart et al. (2003, p. 215) strongly suggest that
marketers and researchers should look at "high value supporters [who are] attracted to the
game as a whole rather than to a particular team or player [because they are] likely to become
increasingly lucrative sources of income for sport organizations and a strategic focal point for
sports marketers". So far, major studies focusing on the New Zealand context are not readily
available and according to the then-marketing manager of NZF the organisation obtains no
consistent market data for decision-making unlike their European counterparts.

Sports marketing and sports tourism research pays attention to the concept of motivation.
Robinson, Trail, Dick and Gillentine (2005) refer to motives as either innate or learned, which
activate behaviours because of the satisfaction or enjoyment generated by sports spectating
and related activities. A model by Trail, Anderson and Fink (2000, ctd. in Trail, Fink and
Anderson, 2003) describes individuals' motives that lead to expectations for the sports event
experience/outcome, which are compared to their (dis-)confirmation, and which can trigger an
affective state that influences future fan behaviour. A similar process is described in the sports
tourism literature (Kurtzman and Zauhar, 2006).

This is particularly relevant in the context of evaluating a sports travel market. People who are
satisfied with the outcome of an event are more likely to revisit this event (Trail et al., 2003),
especially in the case of football World Cups (Kim and Chalip, 2004), and generate positive
multiplier effects, for example narratives that are important for football communities (Trbic,
2006). The stories travellers tell, especially during and after the event (the "magic
environment" according to Kurtzman and Zauhar, 2006), also provides insights into how
motives and expectations translate into an affective state that describes the personal and
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immediate consumption experience. These insights inform sports marketers when planning,
organising and evaluating sports related activities (Shank, 2005).

In an attempt to widen the perspective on fan behaviour, Robinson et al. (2005, p. 44) argue
that "individuals may have multiple points of attachment besides the team and therefore are
worthy of investigation". Broadly spoken, these may revolve around physical, cultural,
interpersonal, and status/prestige (Kurtzman and Zauhar, 2006). Such aspects are captured in
the constructs of push and pull factors. The present case of New Zealanders travelling to the
World Cup in Germany focused on both push and pull factors. Research clearly suggests that
both set of factors drive decision-making, while their relationship remain uncertain (Kim and
Chalip, 2004). The former refer to motivations as discussed above, while the latter are
considered attractions, either tangible (e.g. landscape) or intangible (e.g. service quality)
(Cooper, Fletcher, Gilbert, Shepherd and Wanhill, 1998). Considering standard measures of
fan and travel motives described in the literature (Stewart et al., 2003; Trail et al., 2003;
Gibson, 1998; Wann, 1995) and adapting Kim and Chalip's (2004) study into why people
travelled to the FIFA World Cup 2002, the following factors were identified:

Push factors: eustress/positive level of arousal; entertainment value; diversion from
everyday life; need for affiliation; family ties; show national identity/represent New
Zealand; supporting favourite team/self-esteem enhancement; and
Pull factors: attractiveness of destination; attractiveness of event; health and safety
constraints; financial constraints.
Kim and Chalip's (2004) study into why travel to the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea
(co-hosted with J apan) in the U.S. revealed supporting national team and learn about
Korea as a leading factor besides event interest, with risk (particularly health and safety)
being the most irrelevant factor for respondents.


Sample and Method

In order to better understand the motivations of travelling fans, primary data was collected
using a combination of structured mailed questionnaires and in-depth semi-structured
personal interviews. J ones (1997) encourages mixing qualitative and quantitative methods in
sports fan research in order to avoid bias resulting from single method approaches.
Questionnaires were used to explore the general facts and trends in the samples motives,
behaviour and their perceptions of the event and the host country. Two relevant
questionnaires were developed and pre-tests were conducted in order to further refine the
included items. To ensure a high return rate, a hybrid survey approach (Parackal, 2000) was
utilised combining mail and online versions. Semi-structured interviews allowed a better
understanding of issues covered by the surveys and also allowed the exploration of other
aspects of peoples World Cup expectations and experience. In the questionnaires eight
questions were included towards chosen push factors and ten questions towards pull factors.
The factors describe subscales validated by Wann (1995) and Beard and Ragheb (1983, cited
in Kim and Chalip, 2004). Five point Likert scales were used. Results from two questions
regarding the entertainment value of the travel and the event were combined, as well as two or
three questions describing each pull factor (Table 1).

The mail survey was divided into two stages: immediately prior to the World Cup and after
the event. The in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in three stages: before,
during and after the event. Respondents were interviewed face-to-face or via phone for about
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45 minutes. In comparison to other research approaches, this one applied a "pre-then-post"
method with a consistent sample of fans actually visiting the event (e.g. Kim and Chalip,
2004; Kim and Morrsion, 2005; Lee et al. 2005).
The study used a convenience sampling procedure. The database was provided by NZF,
which included all New Zealanders who obtained their World Cup tickets through the official
ballot of the national governing body (44). Since access to the database was permitted and
controlled by NZF, and subject to privacy issues, it was impossible to track the same
individual through all stages. The survey received 68 responses: 38 (90%) in the first and 30
(71%) in the second stage. All three interviewees were volunteers from within the sample.

39 males (88.6%) and five females (11.4%) comprised the sample. The majority of those
surveyed were well educated (9.1% polytechnic, 38.6% undergraduate degree, 31.8%
postgraduate degree). Most were either employed full-time (61.4%) or self-employed (25%).
The ages of respondents ranged from 23 to 60 years with an average of 40 years. Considering
the age histogram, a bimodal distribution is present with the younger mode representing early
career people, keen on sports and its entertainment factor, and the later mode, representing
settled, successful people, often with families, also keen on football for whom the costs of
travelling to such an event are relatively minimal, but restricted by time constraints.

The sample can be described as "highly committed consumers" of the game representing
different age groups and modes of travelling (Stewart, Smith & Nicholson 2003). Scores
taken from eleven statements referring to regular football consumption patterns confirmed
their genuine high involvement with the game. The majority of participants considered
themselves as football fans (94.4%). Scores from the other ten statements, such as regular
football media consumption (83.3%), regular attendance at matches in NZ (80.6%), and club
membership (72.2%), support that the sample predominately consisted of medium/focused
and high/vested fans. Mentions in optional free-text questions as well as the interview series
revealed fascination and identification with the beautiful game. One interviewee referred
back to an outstanding experience in his youth when he could follow the 1958 World Cup
together with his father on a borrowed television. Another interviewees state, Many people
especially in New Zealand may not understand this love and passion for the game, and
Everyday I am checking football websites it is a big part of my life.


Findings, Discussion and Implications

In regards to the focus on why people visited the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Table 1 shows
the ranking of relevant pull and push factors. They are in clear contrast to similar previous
studies (Kim and Chalip, 2004). First, it becomes obvious that since New Zealand as a
football fringe nation did not qualify for the event, that team and player identification:
"show national identity/represent NZ" and "self-esteem enhancement/supporting favourite
team" scored very low. It is the overall attractiveness of the mega sports event itself that
motivates fans the most. Even the arrival of the tickets generated a positive level of arousal
and excitement, with one interviewee, almost prayerfully, saying, Now I have them in my
handsthey look wonderful!" Results from this study support scholars notion to address
more factors motivating fans to travel to and attend football matches (Robinson et al., 2005).

Second, even participating New Zealand World Cup travellers spend a considerable amount
of money on their trips (NZ$ 15,000 on average), it was not to learn about the host nation.
Eustress, the entertainment value of the event and its diversion from everyday life were main
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motivational drivers. Furthermore, after their return, 85.7% said that the overall experience of
the World Cup trip was "very positive". From a marketer's perspective, this is central since
World Cup visitors (Kim and Chalip, 2004) and supporters in general (Trail et al., 2003) are
more likely to engage in similar future fan behaviour if they are satisfied with the event.
Travelling football fans post event evaluation supports this: almost all respondents used the
optional free-text questions to express excitement. Confirmed by the interview series, the
dominant football-related experience and memory revolved around fans singing and walking
to the stadium like a procession, or as one noted: "40,000 are singing the same song gives you
a chill on the back it feels really special and puts every rugby game to shame". As
manifested memories and extensions of themselves, 80.6% of merchandise taken back home
was t-shirts/jerseys and 29% the official 2006 FIFA World Cup programme (Belk, 1988).

Third, while it can be expected that the most influential push factors and the attractiveness of
the event itself remain strong for future FIFA World Cups, other pull factors, especially health
and safety of the host nation are critical. In short: one does not enjoy entertainment if feeling
unsafe. This factor is expected to become more relevant, and needs to be included in sports
marketing and sports tourism research as more mega sport events are scheduled to be hosted
in nations in the spotlight of international political concerns (e.g. democracy/human rights:
Beijing 2008, Sochi 2014; crime: South Africa 2010). In this study, only 36.1% would have
gone to the World Cup if it was in Africa, making it the lowest scoring region with Western
Europe and Australasia reaching the highest acceptance (88.9%). The link between the feeling
of safety and enjoyment of the event was explicitly addressed by the German Ministry of the
Interior, which is responsible for both homeland security and sports (Schaeuble, 2006).

Table 1: Fan Motivation Scores (-2 to +2)

Push Factors Pull Factors
Eustress/positive level of arousal 1.143 Attractiveness - event 1.792
Diversion from everyday life 0.694 Attractiveness - destination 0.459
Entertainment value 0.666 Constraints - financial 1.083
Need for affiliation 0.486 Constraints - health/safety -0.848
Family ties 0.314
Show national identity/represent NZ -0.452
Self-esteem enhancement/supporting
favourite team
-0.528


Conclusions

The research project evaluates football fans' travel motivations and consumption behaviour in
relation to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Findings contrast former studies and
suggests that, with the commercialisation and global growth of football, research related to
fan motivations should broaden its perspective to understand the relations that fans build with
the event itself rather than with individual teams and players. This is particularly relevant in
respect to fans from football "fringe nations" that hardly take part in top-level international
competitions, and in respect to risks associated with the host nation.

Generalisation of findings is limited by the small sample size included in this project.
However, the regional focus and cooperative nature of the study singled out a very cohesive
group of travelling fans most attractive to sports researchers and marketers because of its high
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involvement. Nevertheless, future research should try to work with larger samples in order to
overcome analytical limitations. It would also be beneficial to track individual responses
throughout longitudinal studies as the strongly suggested "pre-then-post" method.

Results also have important implications for football marketers and the governing body in
New Zealand. In general, findings show that travelling football fans hold considerable
financial and social resources that need to be integrated beyond the administrative and
technical strategies and tactics to develop the game. Travel packages to top-level international
football events should be considered with a focus on the hierarchy of push and pull factors
presented in the paper that motivate or constrain consumption decisions, experiences and
post-event evaluation.

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