The UEFA U21 Championship kicked off in Israel with two opening matches played in front of full stadiums. It was no big surprise that host team Israel played against Norway sold out the 14,000 Netanya stadium, but the 12,000 fans who came to watch England vs. Italy in Bloomfield Stadium showed that the local organizing tournament committee is doing something right.
On the eve of the tournament UEFA announced that 100,000 tickets were sold before the first match. In comparison, the 2011 UEFA U21 Championship held in Denmark sold 50,000 tickets throughout the whole tournament.
The Israeli Football Association (IFA) which is organizing the championship has invested heavily in its social media activity, promotions and advertising to promote the tournament. Facebook adds campaigns and viral youtube clips in the weeks leading to the tournament boosted the U21 Championship buzz and exposure in the local social networks.
Last month the IFA launched a facebook ticketing application for purchasing tickets in facebook and which enables fans to see where their friends are sitting. The SitNearMe application was developed by Evento Social Promotion, which works with the IFA and other sports teams across Europe.
Evento’s Marketing Director, Yair Scher explained:
In the last two years the IFA has constantly worked to professionalise and improve its social media activities and they are looking into cutting edge tools and practices.
A comparison of the medium-sized UEFA federations’ official facebook pages shows that the IFA is getting it right.