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The Evolution of Football 2020-2030

March 2023

2020-2030 will be a key decade for professional football. It has seen the FIFA World Cup travel to the Middle East for the first time in its history, the women’s game is seeing positive commercial momentum, and the battle for the attention of Gen Z is well underway. This report looks at the trends around football and what the future holds for stakeholders ranging from fans to sponsors.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Generational shifts impacting football

Demographic shifts are reshaping what fan engagement looks like, with Gen Z and millennials focusing their attention on social media platforms and an increasing number of avenues through which leagues and teams can connect with fans directly. More broadly, the fragmentation of the traditional media landscape is posing as many opportunities to football as it is challenges.

Home or away: how sponsors spend

Advances in analytics around marketing and sponsorship are placing increased pressure on rightsholders to illustrate an ability to help brands reach their goals. In many cases, partnership decisions still rely heavily on market overlap, with companies frequently partnering with teams and leagues in the market in which they are based and/or strongest.

Experiencing more at the stadium

Fans want to be able to get maximum value from their matchday ticket, irrespective of whether this is general access, corporate hospitality or somewhere in between. With stadium operators facing macroeconomic headwinds, this poses a number of challenges. This has seen a departure from exclusive “white linen” hospitality experiences to informal, shared spaces designed to create a premium experience with a traditional matchday atmosphere.

By 2030, fan behaviours will evolve with the sport

The popularity of football shows no sign of dissipating, yet fan engagement will look far different in 2030. Women’s football will continue to make giant strides commercially, virtual environments for fan communities will no longer be at the fringes of broadcast, and the democratisation of media will see engagement splinter across an ever-increasing number of channels. To win, a strategic and critical approach to change will bear commercial fruit.

Key Findings
2020-2030 is a decade unlike any other for football
Football shaped by population change
Global football attendances remain strong
Engagement in domestic football peaks in Europe but sizable elsewhere
Football in the US facing an all-time peak at the 2026 World Cup
Commercial strategy success relies on historic and current on-pitch performance
The habits and behaviours of Gen Z and millennials online will steer engagement strategy
Marketing teams need to have their finger on the pulse to engage fans online
Facebook still the home of Bundesliga fans, yet TikTok and Instagram continue to gain ground
PSG shows that top teams are placing more emphasis on TikTok growth strategies in 2023
As in Europe, TikTok in Latin America sees exponential growth across key leagues
Converting Women’s International tournament energy into domestic support
Top spenders in European football
Sponsorship valuation in the top five leagues: 2022-2026
The link between local companies and football teams
Brands competing on the pitch
Key takeaways
Opportunities as football looks towards 2030
Redefining the premium hospitality experience
Technologies that are shaping fan journeys in football
Gaming and esports represent both a threat and an opportunity
The inescapable politics of football
Keeping politics and social issues at the heart of the game
New voices for new fans: The continued rise of Football YouTubers
Marching towards the metaverse
Virtual sports merchandise spurred on by the fashion industry
Three takeaways defining the coming years
Three key areas that will undergo change by 2030


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