The top takeaways from our Euro 2020 event

Our star-studded panel of Jim Lucas (Managing Editor at the FA), Chris Bryant (Head of Tournament Delivery Euro 2020 & 2021) & Barry Flanigan (Chief Product Officer at COPA90) had plenty to dig into as Carrie Brown, Presenter and Sports Correspondent at beIN Sport, raised questions of environmental & logistical issues that face Euro 2020 this summer.

12 countries and 12 cities host the prestigious tournament to celebrate 60 years of European Internationals going head-to-head, so this unique format is seen as a celebration of football around the content, offering countries like Scotland and Azerbaijan the opportunity to play mini-host to an array of footballing talent. Fan-zones, UEFA festivals and celebratory events are to be held in all 12 venues to play a part in the party that’ll celebrate one of football’s most iconic tournaments.

Facing questions from the crowd as well as Carrie, the panellists tackled some of the main challenges facing them this summer. Here are Digital Sport’s top takeaways.

1. The Environment

It would be a bit too simplistic to consider the many flights around Europe this summer, caused by the Euros, to mean this particular tournament is less environmentally-conscious than previous or future ones. Yes, there’s no denying their could be a lot of travelling for some fans, but for others, there’s the added benefit of watching their team play in their home stadium, meaning very little travel and discomfort for those involved.

Chris said that the FA are “making a series of upgrades to Wembley so it can be the best possible showcase for the Euros”, but as Carrie pointed out, the amount of infrastructure needed to host a major event in one nation including all the building & travelling of large equipment means other tournaments also have their own climate issues to consider. What this tournament does is save a lot of that hassle across a whole country as the stadiums targeted are already very well-equipped to deal with a major events. 11 out of the 12 stadiums have a capacity of 50k+, so the infrastructure is already in place, saving any work that might have had to be done elsewhere.

Chris also highlighted UEFA’s intention to plant 600,000 trees during the tournament.

2. England and their fans come together

Jim played a video to the audience highlighting the importance of the FA’s work towards bringing the fans closer to the England team and their cause through Russia 2018.

That summer was memorable due to the football played on the pitch, but off to the sidelines as well was great work from the England set-up to use social media properly, giving both fan and player a really strong bond and understanding of what was happening during the tournament.

Jim explained that now “players understand what it’s like to be an England fan because of digital capturing the experience”, as he referenced fan videos in the stadium or back at home in the fan zones. It was a magical summer and digital played a huge part in bringing it all together. The FA plan to develop these methods further, continuing to create content that “tackles the misconception of players”. They want to continue to build this relationship between fan and player with digital at the forefront to ensure all audiences are being reached and engaged with.

3. Partners & major tournaments

Barry discussed COPA90’s work with partners during major tournaments. COPA are famous for their unique content that captures the very essence of being a fan, and brands want to be associated with this raw, authentic presentation of the footballing landscape beyond mainstream media and coverage. COPA do ensure to tailor their work towards their partners as well though, talking to them about what they want to create and how their partnership can be unique and explore new avenues. This work delivers far more for the partnership than just simply “slapping a logo” on some work, which Barry is keen to avoid.

4. New Social Media

Social media continues to develop and throw up new forums for clubs and fans to engage in. Tik Tok is the latest phenomenon, one the FA and COPA90 have both recently launched on in a bid to hit new audiences of perhaps a younger demographic as well, explained by both Jim and Barry.

The evolution of social media is something they have to prepare for, and their job is to try and understand these audiences.

“It’s not as simple as cutting instagram footage and sticking it on Tik Tok”, said Jim, highlighting just how important it is to understand what these new platforms demand in order to be successful.

5. England advantage overrated?

England will be hosting their three group games at Wembley Stadium, with the semis and the final also at the iconic England ground.

However, it’s important to remember that others have not too dissimilar advantages as well: “we’re not the only team playing at home for all our group games – Italy will consider themselves to have a huge advantage too”, explained Jim.

After the reasonably successful World Cup in 2018, added to the home advantage England will enjoy, there’s every chance the pressure could be cranked up to a whole new level for Gareth Southgate and his England players. So while there’s certainly an advantage, it shouldn’t be underestimated how much mental strength these players still need to overcome to go on to European glory.

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