You Say Soccer, I Say Football

2010 World Cup Nike ad on Via Rizzoli (Photo by Genilson Brandao)

I am Brazilian so, yes, football is in my DNA. And in Brazil (like the rest of the world), the game loved by millions is called football though in the U.S., soccer is the correct name. Blame it on American football, a game played in a way that defies name logic. But I digress.

As the 2010 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup games advance in South Africa, the thought of global public relations vis-à-vis the popularity of football worldwide enters my mind. What can FIFA, a Swiss international association with more members (208) than the United Nations and allegedly similar altruistic goals, teach PR students and professionals about public relations from a European (and global) perspective?

 Two things seem obvious:

1. Speak to your audience. In a global and digital age, FIFA understands the importance of communicating with its audiences in various languages. Its website not only offers personalization options to enhance usability, it also provides global (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French) and regional (German and Arabic) site versions. It even offers international sign-language videos for the hearing impaired.

2. Make it personal. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter acknowledges that “. . . social media websites will play an important role in connecting everyone who cares about the game of football.” Thus, it is no surprise that Blatter, a one-time public relations professional for his hometown’s tourist board, launched his own Twitter handle @seppblatter.

When I sit down tonight to watch Brazil play North Korea at Bar Giuseppe in the Piazza Maggiore, I will be cheering for Brazil and hoping to see a beautiful game. But my PR hat will be on to see what else I can glean from FIFA’s global public relations efforts.

— Genilson Brandao