April 27 – A survey of eFootball activity within 35 European federations has found that 92% of FAs plan to field their own eNational teams in 2021 with 83% planning their own tournaments and leagues.
The research survey by German rights consultancy mm sports found that while eFootball is seen universally as an opportunity there are both governance and structural issues that need to be addressed to ensure its sustainability.
“Whether eFootball is here to stay and thrive remains to be seen. That will certainly go hand in hand with solving the funding issue. But it is only partly in the hands of the associations. Market maturity influences
revenue opportunities, which are directly related to the commercial ecosystem set by FIFA, UEFA and the publishers,” says the mm sports report.
Establishing eFootball and making “investments more future-proof”, needs clearer, centrally governed structures and better use of the “football system”, argues the report.
That would “help everyone to significantly and quickly increase the potential and value of eFootball. Such a unified football system may also increase the bargaining power vis-à-vis the publishers. They act very supportively but still call the shots in the end.”
One finding of the report that is a surprise is that most European clubs rely on Konami. Although it has a lower market share in Europe compared to EA Sports FIFA, Konami PES eFootball as a platform is ahead in terms of the number of national associations’ eNational teams with the main reason being that UEFA has its eEuro tournament played exclusively on Konami.
- eFootball is less considered as an official sport as part of the associations’ portfolios. 97% want to bring new active participants into football and 85% hope to attract a new fan base with eFootball. Perhaps this is also the reason why 73% organise eFootball under the marketing department with the aim of appealing to a young target audience.
- Multi-speed market developments: The state of development continues to vary greatly between individual associations with almost a 40/60 split between more or less advanced associations and those still at the beginning of the development process.
- Increasing professionalisation: With the increasing number of eNational Teams, high-quality leagues and tournaments and with 74% having established organisational structures for eFootball, the experience and professionalisation is growing.
- Increasing opportunities: Regardless of the size of the association, for those who are fast, eFootball offers a huge opportunity to set themselves apart from the others. Especially smaller associations can achieve an international presence in a relevant target group with comparatively little effort in the traditional sense of football.
- Main challenge is funding: The biggest challenge remains funding. On the one hand, this is due to limitations in experience and structures caused by the novelty of eFootball as part of the football ecosystem and, on the other hand, the lack of acceptance within the associations and among sponsors. Both limit access to budgets.
- Attract new and young audiences: There is a very consistent view on why eFootball is so relevant for associations. 97% want to bring new active participants into football and 85% hope to attract a new fan base with eFootball. Perhaps this is also the reason why 73% organise eFootball under the marketing department with the aim of appealing to a young target audience.
- commercial opportunities: 82% see eFootball as chance to acquire new partners, which will certainly help to overcome the budget challenge. To achieve this 50% will create a dedicated commercial programme for eFootball.
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