July 12 2018

Business Goals - Perspektivwechsel / Change of perspective

Germany, FIFA World Cup

Please find the English translation of the column below.

Heute erscheint der siebte Teil der Netzathleten Kolumne von Dennis Trautwein, Vice President von Octagon Germany über die WM 2018.

Diesen finden Sie auf der Netzathleten Seite hier.


12 Jul 2018 Dennis Trautwein

The FIFA World Cup is on its final stretch. Croatia against France in the final - I'm sure whoever bet money on this final before the tournament can now look forward to a nice sum. Russia were dramatically eliminated in the quarter-finals, but what impression did they make as hosts? No matter who I have talked to so far, the fans are full of praise for the smooth running around the tournament and the friendly atmosphere in the streets.

Just like for any World Cup there is the legitimate question of sustainability. A World Cup is a huge opportunity for the host country. I already mentioned South Africa at the beginning of my column. Even the World Cup in 2006 in Germany – the “Sommermärchen” or summer fairy tale – had a lasting effect. Our image got a new tone. The world perceived Germany from a slightly different view from then on. It will be interesting to see to what extent Russia can save some of the positive developments even after the World Cup.

Another big topic, especially in Germany, is the commercialization of football. Let me put this in perspective however: Sure, football has gone through an extreme development, not only in regards to the World Cup, but rather on all platforms: Bundesliga, Premier League, European Cup… - the degree of commercialization has increased everywhere. While all participants have to pay tribute to the requirements and expectations of the product football, the fan, the consumer, has also developed higher expectations regarding the basic service at a match, at the stadium – just as for the everyday standard of living. That’s not only true for the fans, but also for the population in general. Traditionalist and romantics have to realize that without commercialization, a certain level of comfort and entertainment, something they have gotten used to themselves, would no longer be guaranteed. What many fans point out and what they secretly expect is not always the same. Sometimes there is a discrepancy between what they say and what they feel.

Inflation and rising prices are noticeable everywhere, even in the entertainment business. This has to be considered during the pricing debate. Can a fan afford live football? Vising a Bundesliga match with the whole family, the tickets, beer, food and ice cream… - you’ve easily spent 100 Euros in no time. 20, 30 years ago it was still affordable… a common argument. But: 20, 30 years ago you didn’t go to the stadium with the whole family. Nowadays, we are talking about a completely different, new product. The stadium experience has changed alongside the increased expectations of service and comfort. That’s why you can’t offer this product as inexpensively as in the past.

Looking at the operation of the league, the cost development is pushing the envelope of course. As a fan of a club with 17 home games, the financial burden – depending on the category – is palpable. The DFL will have to think about that and communicate with clubs and fans and take their point of views seriously. But a World Cup match is not part of mass production. Of course: The World Cup live experience is expensive. A seat was about 100 Euros during the group stage. But that’s something different; a World Cup match is not a league match. You can’t compare that. If I can get tickets for the World Cup as a fan, I’ll even buy tickets for Togo versus France, because it means that I’ll be there and be part of it. A World Cup only happens every four years and therefore is an exclusive good. You have to view this in a cultural context. 

In Russia, FIFA again offered an a bit more affordable category of tickets to locals. Even that earned criticism, but the idea was and is the right one in my view. Looking at the final, prices can increase five or six fold. But the final is without question a once in a lifetime experience, even though you probably won’t get to see the best football in the world (you see that at the Champions League final). But that’s not what it’s about at a World Cup. It is an intercultural festival, where many nations meet. The final is the glorious conclusion. That is the true expectation a fan should have of this spectacle.

We can expect magical, fascinating moments this Sunday. Where the journey takes us, what we can expect in regards to upcoming World Cup tournaments, which markets remain exciting and why you should put on FIFA goggles once in a while, I’ll highlight in my last column after the final match.



Dennis Trautwein



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.