Football is a brand by itself, it has more than a hundred years growing inside people’s gut and promotes a series of elements that embrace all humankind, it has values, mission, vision, objectives and a purpose. It completes the Brand Compass to the perfection, it has a message, it has a particular culture, an identity, and all of the latter mixed together, makes Football work like an enchanting Brand.
Football is not FIFA, or UEFA, or MLS, or CONMEBOL, it’s bigger than these organizations -which they’re also brands, and have their own life-, in fact, those organizations work for Football, but not the other way around. If it comes to the point where these organizations fall and disappear, it’s not going to be a Football-Gate, Football will still be played in every place where it’s played right now, and probably more places will be added, because Football is just more than sport, it’s something else that lives inside people’s heart.
I’ve never participated in any competitive “official” football team as a player, I’m – by choice – a Basketball player. However, I know how to play Football, I understand the rules, the tactics and strategies inside the game, the values, the reason why we play it, the vision through it, the way it’s supposed to be, the loosing and winning, the objectives, the soul inside the game, the constant innovation, the culture, the entire purpose of it. And sometimes with a few friends, we get together and play some football. Just because.
But what makes Football a Brand?
Football as a brand starts within the Clubs, and I’m not talking about Manchester United, Barcelona or Peñarol, these are examples of great clubs that made their name grow and became a world-known brand, synonyms of glory and victory.
I’m talking about the very small Clubs in any world’s edge neighborhood that ever won anything. I’m talking about Rampla Jrs. Clubs without any other glory than winning a particular game against their “classic” rival, and only once a year, if ever happens.
Clubs have a mission within the place where they were created, they take kids out of the streets and put them inside a field to practice the sport, they give families a space to bond and strengthen the community.
Within the practice of football, a big bunch of life experiences and values are seeded into these kids. They’ll learn frustration, whether not being the most important person in the world anymore, or that someone else is better at football.
They’ll learn the values of sacrifice and effort, the sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves, the objectives of a tournament, the mission of becoming better, personally first, technically next, and team-wise later, to conquer the championship, or just win that -bloody hard- single game.
They’ll embrace the culture that Football transmits for those who ever played it. Inside the pitch, there’s no such thing as social classes, everyone is the same, and the poor guy can “paint” your face as much as the rich one can do. And eventually, players will become friends, breaking any social barrier, prejudice or whatsoever.
They’ll understand the soul that a combination of colors in an emblem transmit, and it will imprint their hearts more than anything ever did or will do.
Football will shape the kids, and they’ll never forget the lessons learnt at their early stages. These kids will always understand the love for something bigger than themselves.
They’ll love the small-neighborhood Club more than they love any other Club or even anything else, their wives, husbands, their mothers, you name it, Football will be on top of that or even better, shared. And when they become parents, they’ll take their kids to practice football in the same Club they did.
They can’t give you a concise definition of “why”, but they love those colors, it’s not about winning a championship, it’s not about glory, actually, it’s not even about the colors. It’s about the feelings, the belonging, the friends, the brotherhood, the fairness and trickiness, the equity, the solidarity. It’s about how they lived football in that particular shitty Club when they were kids, and how still-passionate they are now as grownups.
No one from the adult-managers at the Club realized they were creating a Brand when they give birth to the institution, they were just “doing their job” for the community, making something bigger than themselves, putting hours of work “cus was needed for the people, for the kids, for the neiborhood”. And without knowing the Brand grew in them.
And that’s it, they never realized it but now it’s too late, their soul it’s branded.
And they love it.