Business Goals – Die WM ist wie eine Reise/ The World Cup is a JourneyGermany, FIFA World Cup
Im zweiten Teil seiner Netzathleten Kolumne zur FIFA Fußballweltmeisterschaft 2018 in Russland berichtet Dennis Trautwein, Vice President von Octagon Germany, das erste Mal vor Ort aus Russland.
‚Dobryy den' from Moscow! I’ve arrived in the host country of the 21st FIFA World Cup and am already in World Cup mode. Of course, initially, there’s nothing new over here. For almost 3 years now, I’ve been commuting between Duesseldorf and Moscow or St. Petersburg – the two cities that are in the spotlight with a total of 21 matches, including the opening match, the two semi-finals and the World Cup final. Based on Russian standards, the distance between the two cities, about 700 km, is a hop, skip and a jump away. The World Cup focus is on the European heart of the country anyways – which is very helpful from an organizational and logistical point of view.
In light of the World Cup in Russia, we started building up World Cup specific structure early on, namely four years ago. With adequate lead time and a handful of staff, we were looking for suppliers at the various match locations, local companies, as well as international partners with expertise in Russia, e.g. logistics companies, and finally opened our office in Moscow in the summer of 2015. Afterwards, we strengthened our new location successively. We hired local staff, and sent both Russian and international colleagues, to ensure a smooth transfer of knowledge and to tighten our global network. Nowadays, our team during the World Cup consists of 200 employees. The core team in Moscow is 80 people strong. Even at our offices in Europe we hired 7 Russian speaking colleagues, to support our international clients the best possible way. Unfortunately, I still only speak a few words of Russian. Thankfully, English is an official language of FIFA – which significantly helps in terms of communication. Especially since the structures of the federation are increasingly transferred to the host country prior to the event.
To know the special attributes of the FIFA environment and maintain a great network is essential for our job. This is also the true to ensure that we can stay flexible and can shorten information flows for our customers. To be able to execute your project, you need more than just technical know-how. A World Cup project is like a journey. Hereby, we see ourselves as the travel companions of our partners. Nevertheless, there is more to it than pre-established roads and general travel guides. Yes, you were able to practice certain processes at the Confed-Cup last year, that’s what it’s there for among other things – but the World Cup itself is simply more gigantic. We are talking 32 teams, 64 matches in 11 locations at 12 stadiums, as well as the huge FIFA Fan Fests in all match cities. In 2010 and 2014, many local subcontractors, e.g. manufacturers of exhibition stands, hostess services, staffing-, merchandising- and equipment providers simply overextended their capabilities and weren’t able to deliver. Such companies see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a World Cup. Many overestimate themselves in that situation or deliberately take – too much – risk.
You have to take these experiences into account on your next ‘journey’. The selection of reliable partners and the planning of logistical processes starts about three years prior to a World Cup. Therefore, you also need to think about related questions prior to dedicating yourself to your actual campaign.
I will elaborate on this in my subsequent articles, as well as discuss the host country nomination for the World Cup in 2026. Will it be USA/Mexico/Canada or Morocco after all? This will be decided at the FIFA congress in Moscow on the 12th and 13th of June. I figure, from the viewpoint of FIFA after the adventures in South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Qatar in regards to infrastructure, sponsors, logistics and organization, hosting the event in North America would be a much more predictable option. Especially since in 2026, a record 48 teams will be participating. But let’s wait and see. It will definitely stay exciting. I can feel it myself: since my arrival, the appeal of the World Cup has increased even more. It’s crunch time! That being said: see you soon. Just in time for the opening match you’ll be hearing from me again!
About Dennis Trautwein:
The football World Cup in Germany in 2006 was Dennis Trautwein’s personal ‘Sommermärchen’ (summer fairy tale) – the first World Cup experience for the then 26-year-old. His job at the World Cup Organizing Committee was the perfect entry into his career – and a lasting one. World Cups were going to play a major role for the now 38-year-old upon his start with Octagon Germany in 2007. His strategic focus was on the following FIFA World Cups in 2010, 2014 – and of course now the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Dennis Trautwein is one of the leading sport marketing experts in this country – and an absolute connoisseur of the scene.