14 January 2019
Author: Adam Steel
However, as businesses increasingly step up to act as forces for good in society, football clubs should be doing the same, rather than shying away from engaging with difficult issues. I would argue that football clubs are actually uniquely placed to make an impact on society and drive it forward, instead of the other way around.
Like other leading businesses, football clubs have huge global audiences and loyal fanbases, with the Premier League alone watched by 4.7 billion people across the world, according to the British Council. They also have inherent links to local communities, enabling them to communicate and engage with their audiences in an authentic way.
A number of fan-backed movements at grassroots level are demonstrating to bigger clubs exactly the kind of initiatives that can affect this change. Lewes FC has started paying its men’s and women’s teams an equal wage. Non-league Clapton CFC, meanwhile, recently achieved viral fame with its ethically-produced anti-fascist away shirt commemorating the Spanish Republic, receiving 5,000 pre-orders for the garment.
If this is the impact at lower- and non-league levels, imagine what clubs at the top of the football ladder could achieve through similar campaigns. It could prove truly game-changing, shedding invaluable light on certain issues and helping to kick others into touch for good.
Encouragingly, there is growing precedent for this kind of action from within the highest echelons of football, with Brighton & Hove Albion becoming the first Premier League football club to provide female fans with free sanitary goods last year, driving a more inclusive attitude around the sport. Beyond the UK, Real Madrid has prioritised sustainability as its civic-impact area, working with kit sponsor Adidas and environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans to create a kit made from recycled plastic.
Those football clubs that adopt similarly innovative initiatives and embrace a civic role can become relevant across sectors and engage on a deeper level the 65% of consumers that, according to research from Havas Group, believe businesses bear as much responsibility as governments for driving social change.
For more on how your brand can step in as a force for good within society, explore our Civic Brands macrotrend.
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