Copa America Centenario optimism

Author Adil Charki, University of San Francisco

Posted: April 4, 2016

Without a doubt, 2016 is going to be a big year for international soccer. This year will feature the 100th Copa America Centenario in addition to the International Champions Cup, UEFA Champions League Final, and Olympic Soccer in Rio. The Copa America Centenario allows consumers to express their self-identity and their sense of belonging towards the soccer community (Pons, Girox, & Mourali, 2014, p. 34). The three-week tournament will feature the biggest stars, like Lionel Messi, Neymar and Chicharito (Thomas, 2016, p. 1). To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the tournament will be held in the United States.

The international soccer community faces an uphill battle to attract new consumers after the recent FIFA scandal. The corrupt FIFA reputation could negatively affect the viewership of the Copa America Centenario. According to the sport identity theory, individual consumers have separated themselves from teams or leagues with a negative perception. Consumers could choose to Cut Off Reflected Failure (CORF) and not associate with a corrupt sport to distance themselves (Funk & Lock, 2014, p. 45). The future of the tournament was in doubt in 2014 but the local organizing group rescued the project by partnering with reputable companies like IMG, SUM, Nike, Sprint, Coca-Cola, and State Farm.

David Nathanson, Fox Sports’ head of business operations, remains optimistic the tournament will perform very well. Fox Sports paid $15 million for the U.S. rights to broadcast the event (Thomas, 2016, p. 1). It is his mission to promote the tournament during the “most competitive period of soccer programming” (Thomas, 2016, p. 1). Soccer is not the most popular sport in the United States but with the Copa coming to the U.S., it can provide positive exposure to the sport.

Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing Founder, John Guppy, highlights the opportunities for digital and social campaigns. Sports today are increasing their access and exposure of sports through social media platforms. This new technology allows fans and consumers to identify with their favorite sports heroes and teams. Consumers have shown a desire to follow their favorite players and teams to enhance their self-perception (Pons et al., 2014, p. 29). This exposure to the Copa America Centenario can help further American’s interest in international soccer and further develop the “intangible attitudes” of sport consumers (Funk & Lock, 2014, p. 49).

Guppy anticipates the tournament will reach a wide range of Americans. Millennial and Hispanic families will be some of the target groups of the Copa America Centenario (Thomas, 2016, p. 1). This tournament will feature much more fan engagement than in previous years. These different groups will be exposed to different media outlets for content. The extensive media coverage with Fox Sports and online streaming can help promote strong attitudes soccer and increase the domestic popularity of the sport (Bristow & Sebastian, 2001, p. 257). This 100th anniversary will be both a celebration for the avid soccer fan and an opportunity to find new fans. The executive leadership for this event is working on a limited timeline to formulate their marketing strategy.

There are several different ways to measure consumer behavior and motivation. The SPEED Scale utilizes five variables to determine consumer motives: Socialization, Performance, Excitement, Esteem, and Diversion (Pons et al., 2014, p. 27). Understanding this scale can help the tournament develop innovative marketing strategies to increase revenue. Former CONMEBOL President Eugenio Figueredo and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb predict the 100th Copa will be the biggest international event in the United States since the 2002 Winter Olympics (Thomas, 2016, p. 1). This tournament is a great opportunity to acquire, retain, and grow sport consumers.



Bristow, D., & Sebastian, R. (2001). Holy cow! Wait ‘til next year! A closer look at the brand loyalty of Chicago cubs baseball fans. Journal of consumer marketing, 18(3), 256-275.

Funk, D. C., & Lock, D. (2014). Sport consumer attitudes: formation, function, and effects on information processing. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 37-50). New York, NY: Routledge.

Pons, F., Giroux, M., & Mourali, M. (2014). Consumer behavior and motivation: why are sport event consumers so special? In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 19-36). New York, NY: Routledge.

Thomas, I. (2016, February 29). Copa finds big stage, big interest in U.S., SportsBusiness Journal, 18(44). Retrieved from


About Adil Charki, University of San Francisco

A first generation Bay Area native, Adil Charki has gained a reputation as one of the future leaders within the bay area sports industry. After earning a finance degree at San Jose State University in 2015, Charki joined the San Francisco Giants as the club’s public affairs intern in 2016. He is currently attending the University of San Francisco Sport Management Masters program to further his interest of working on the business side of professional sports. Within his time at SJSU, Adil worked for the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Pebble Beach Company, USA Football, Ironman Race and SJSU Athletics. Using his background in public affairs, community relations, and event management, Adil plans to further his skill set and experience in the sport entertainment space. You can connect with him on LinkedIn: and email: This article is an edited version of a paper Adil prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

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