Research: Copa America 2015 – Soccer Fans in Latin America Deciphered

With the start of the Copa America 2015,  June 11 until July 14 in Chile and one of the most anticipated sports events of the year, soccer passion and emotion will be running high throughout Latin America. While the popularity of soccer is very widespread throughout the Southern continent, what soccer means to fans and how they live their passion is very different. Havas Sports & Entertainment’s  has published the study: “Fans, Passions and Brands”, which surveyed 21,000 fans across 16 countries, and aims to understand the motivations and behaviors of soccer fans and their relationship with brand sponsors.

FPB Latam Copa America infographics -01The research provides a unique way to characterize fan attitudes and behaviors through eight Logics of Engagement, the various underlying motivations for fan behavior which demonstrate how and why fans live their passion for soccer.  The Logics, combined with fans’ media use, level of influence, other passions, and perception of brands, also allow us to uncover six distinct types of global soccer sofans.

A look at fans in Latin America


Havas Sports & Entertainment’s study looked at fans in five Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. In these countries three logics of engagement stand out in comparison to the global population:

  • The number one logic in Latin America and the one that stands out the most is Pride: a third of Latin American fans engage through this logic, 19% more than the global population, which characterizes fans who feel and showcase their deep satisfaction with the achievements of their team.
  • The second logic that emerges is Immersion, which describes 29% of fans in Latin America, 12% more than global fans, which typifies fans who get completely absorbed in the emotion of the game.
  • Play is the third logic that stands out, defining one fourth of Latin American fans, 12% more than global fans. Fans who engage through this logic enjoy participating in activities related to the sport itself, whether physically or virtually.

Furthermore, among the six global soccer fan profiles discovered by Havas SE, one fifth of Latin American football fans are Guardians, which is 42% more than the global population. Guardians connect to soccer through the beauty of the sport and its history, stories and legends like Maradona and Pelé. These fans see themselves as the protectors of football’s rituals and customs. With a preference for club teams over their national teams and a traditional outlook, these fans are avid readers of their local sports pages and are influential face to face. They are also generally aware of brand sponsors.

Differences across Latin America

169996249_4066c1d937_oWhile we can find some general trends across the Latin American population, these fans are not all alike.  There are some significant differences in preferences and behaviors among these countries. Most notably:

  • Fans in Colombia overwhelmingly prefer their national soccer team to club teams or any other teams, with 73% of the population. This is 55% more than in any other Latam country.
  • Brazil has the most longtime fans, with 81% being fans for over 10 years, which is 40% more than in Latin America generally.
  • Chilean fans are the most likely to enjoy the entertainment aspects of soccer, with 31% engaging through the Logic of Entertainment, 11% more than when compared with other Latam countries.
  • Argentine soccer fans are the most appreciative of brand sponsors in football: 51% of them enjoy attending events organized by sponsor brands as they feel sponsors enrich their fan experience. This is 22% more than across Latam.
  • Mexican fans are the most tech savvy, with 55% using second-screens at the stadium to search for information or post about the match, which is 15% more than across the region.

The impact for brands

4355447603_c1c3b1699f_oAs we can see, fans’ passion for soccer is very nuanced. Only by understanding the meaning of the game for each fan can brand sponsors effectively leverage the sport as a communications platform to reach their target audiences.

Soccer fans in Latin America are a very interesting target for brands because they are more receptive than the global population to brand sponsorship, particularly in terms of brand image and purchase intent. Over half of Latin American football fans (55%) believe that football sponsorship improves the image of a brand, which is 22% more than the global average.  Furthermore, half of Latin American football fans believe that football sponsorship encourages them to purchase the sponsor’s products, which is 26% more than the average globally.

How should brands communicate with this audience? In Latin America where nearly one fifth of fans are Guardians, brands should look to reach these fans through storytelling.  Campaigns that evoke the beauty of the sport, its most spectacular moments, and its legends will appeal to these fans.

Looking ahead to 2016

For its 100th year anniversary in 2016, the Copa America Centenario competition will be hosted by the USA. While Americans are developing a growing interest for soccer, or shall we say soccer, with one third being fans for less than two years, a certain segment of the population remain the historic fan segment: Hispanic Americans. They share the love of football and a common language with their Southern neighbors; however, their relationship to football is different given where they live.

Firstly, they are 5 times more likely to support a team other than their National Team (Team USA), meaning that a significant number support the National Team of their country of origins or that of their parents/grandparents.

Secondly, soccer plays a cultural role and represents a way for these fans to breach the distance with their country of origins. As a result, the Logic of Identification plays a much greater role than for the rest of fans in Latin America. One out of three Hispanic American fans relate to soccer through Identification, which means that they see their passion as a part of who they are. Football is a way for these fans to be closer to their country of origins and connect with this culture.