International orientation of professional football beyond Europe: A digital perspective on the global reach of English, German and Spanish clubs

  • Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate how professional football clubs from the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and Spanish Primera División use digital media to expand their international reach in emerging football markets (EFM) outside of Europe. Based on the EPRG framework and Rugman’s home-region hypothesis, the aim is to broaden the perspective where “sports go global” for a further understanding of actors’ international orientation in the digital sphere. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on data from desk research and a qualitative survey, comprising information on international digital media activities of 58 European clubs. Cluster analysis is used to identify different international orientations with regard to digital media activities. Findings The data provide evidence that clubs differ strongly in their orientations towards EFM. While some global players that provide digital media content in several EFM languages and attract a large share of Facebook followers from EFM exist, other clubs focus on their home region. League-specific differences become apparent. Originality/value This study determines the international online orientations of European football clubs by combining two previously separated research streams in football management studies: internationalisation and digital media activities. Most clubs with a strong EFM fan base choose polycentric, multi-language digital media strategies, followed by geocentric, standardised approaches. By offering a novel angle on internationalisation in professional football, this study contributes towards optimising clubs’ international online strategies for EFM, which are markets that promise high growth rates.

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Author:Carolin Fleischmann, Martin Fleischmann
Parent Title (English):Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal
Document Type:Article (peer reviewed)
Publication Year:2019
Tag:Digital media; Emerging markets; Football; Internationalization
Page Number:18
First Page:97
Last Page:114