The 90,000 Fans Who Were Heard At an Empty Stadium

Copa90 Creators

The 90,000 Fans Who Were Heard At an Empty Stadium

Author

Diana Al Shammari
Diana Al Shammari
Article by
Diana Al Shammari
Copa90 Creators member
Diana Al Shammari

Diana is from California but grew up in Iraq, within a culture in which it was frowned upon for females to play football. This has led her to write about issues within the game that are culturally rooted with the aim to voice these to a wider audience. For inspirational writing and for work on the cultural side of football, please read Diana's brilliant work.

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In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so on and on (you get the point, there are PLENTY of social media platforms nowadays that are doing their job very well in keeping us connected and well, distracted some of the time). Almost every major (and minor) club and league are on one or all of these platforms, commercialising their players and interacting with their fans revolutionized football culture and the way football is being supported and celebrated.

I’m sure we have all seen those people in the stadiums on their phone instead of focusing on the game being played right before their eyes. It’s a pity how a small screen can take all our attention and detach us from real world events What if there was a way to use our phones in a manner that is helping our favorite football team? Would you use it? What if one day you couldn’t attend a football match? Are you going to regret all those times you spent looking at your phone instead of the match being played right in front of you?

Imagine this, your country is going through a political revolution. The whole country is in unrest which made going out to social gatherings very dangerous, the government (wherever you live, while reading this right now) restricted public gatherings and banned you and all other football fans from attending your club’s football matches. And to top it all off, your club is playing a very important match against the best team in the league in hopes of staying in the first league. It’s a must win match, and your team needs your support now more than ever. Sounds like a nightmare, no? This actually happened in Tunisia, 2 years after the Arab Spring.

The year 2011 was an astonishing year in North Africa, with the Arab Spring starting in Tunisia and moving swiftly throughout the region. It was the first uprising of many to topple an established government in the Middle East and North Africa since the Iranian revolution in 1979. Tunisia were successful in their uprising and stripped their president of any power. This marked the end to one of the most repressive regimes in the Arab world. It was a victory for its people and perhaps the first time in history that an Arab dictator has been removed from power by a revolution, rather than a coup.

Two years after the Arab Spring, there were still tensions remaining in Tunisia. The government restricted public gatherings for security reasons. This lead to a decision that all professional Football League matches had to be played without any fans or audience in stadiums. That of course forced teams and their fans into a frustrating long distance relationship with their team’s match results. At the end of the season, CS Hammam-Lif (one of the country’s oldest teams) were struggling with average results and were faced with a critical situation.

The ban affected them very badly and because of that, ties with their fans had deteriorated sharply. And the most important match of the year approached; the deciding moment whether they stayed in the league or not. This is a perfect example of the quote “Football is nothing without fans”. The team needed to strengthen their relationship with their fans and gain their support of the most important match of the year.

In order to show the fans that they were still an active part of the team, the team developed an App as a tool for the fans to have direct influence on the team’s results. The mobile App called The 12th Man, connected the fans to 40 speakers placed throughout the stadium and allowing fans tapping buttons which operate commands such as clap, cheer, sing and more – while watching the match live on TV. The more the fans press on the icons, the louder the sounds in the stadium become and fans can even choose the side of the stadium they want their noise to come from. Brilliant, isn’t it? Thanks to their fans’ support, CS Hammam-Lif were able to win the match. That day, more than 90,000 fans’ chants, songs, cheer were heard and filled an empty stadium.

Perhaps technology can be used to further revolutionize the way teams are supported, fans are gathered and overall communication between the two. For a country that was going through a lot of political turmoil and change; the App was a way to bring people together and unite them using one thing they had in common regardless of their differences, their love of the beautiful game.

Will this new technology be available in top European leagues and/or other professional leagues? If a country wasn’t going through political change and football fans weren’t banned from stadiums then there’s no reason to implement it. Not only football clubs will lose millions in revenues from ticket prices; it’s also not the same experience and atmosphere without the tifos, flags, and different scenes in the stadiums. No matter what however, football remains nothing without the fans.

This wonderful piece was directed by XAVIER MAIRESSE and issued by the MEMAC OGILVY LABEL

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