One of the big takeaways from the 2014 World Cup is that social media has reinforced football’s stronghold as the world’s premiere global sport. In fact, the final match broke records on both Twitter and Facebook. Countries that have never been known as “football countries” have embraced the sport with open arms and painted faces – and shared the excitement on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Football clubs have newfound fans across oceans and continents who crowd into sports bars at seven in the morning to catch live games.
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) July 14, 2014
According to the New York Times’ Alex Williams, one of football’s more surprising new audiences are the young intellectuals of New York City. Among the tweed-wearing, M.F.A.-holding circles of the Big Apple, sitting in Irish-style pubs cheering on Arsenal at odd times of the day has become as much part of literati culture as debating the Pulitzer shortlist.
But what we found particularly interesting is Alex Williams’s insight into the role of the Internet in nurturing football culture in countries where it is not the mainstream sport. We believe that the story of these young New York football fans is similar to that of fans in the Philippines. Like New Yorkers, Filipino football fans turn to online forums and social media for the latest news. When paid cable TV is unavailable, Youtube and online streaming are their go-to gateways. Twitter and Facebook allow them to connect with other fans, and even to their favorite players. Not many people know that the Philippine National Men’s Football team’s popular moniker “Azkals” was born in an early Filipino football online forum.
Recognizing this affinity between football and the Internet is crucial to understanding and appreciating football culture in the Philippines. With the limited number of local live matches, many Filipinos watch the games on TV, and tweet and share their experiences and opinions on fan forums and websites.
Recently, our updates about the installation of Limonta artificial turf at the Rizal Memorial Stadium received a lot of excitement and conversation online. We’re sure that many Philippine football fans can’t wait to experience matches at the stadium, and share photos and updates with their friends online. We can expect a similar experience to that of New York, with social media helping to build a broader fan base for football in the Philippines.
Photo by Moazzam Brohi on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.