Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Exploring Soccer Fans' Consumer Motives in Four Eastern European Countries

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Exploring Soccer Fans' Consumer Motives in Four Eastern European Countries

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

From the earliest civilizations to the present day, the candle-flame of sport has drawn spectators to watch players skilled at competitive contests (Sloan, 1989). Over the past 25 years, researchers and sport marketers have investigated and shown increasing interest in the factors that motivate spectators to watch or attend sporting events. During this same period, the marketing emphasis on sporting events has shifted from national levels to a global perspective. An estimated 2.2 billion fans attended or watched as clubs from 32 countries, representing 6 football confederations, participated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament hosted by South Africa (Federation de Internationale Football Association, 2012). Acknowledging this trend, more than 10 years ago researchers began investigating spectator sport in different countries (e.g. Kwon & Trail, 2001; Fink, Trail & Anderson, 2002; Funk, Mahony & Ridinger, 2002; James & Ross, 2004; Hall & O'Mahony, 2006; Won & Kitamura, 2007; Correia & Estevez, 2007; Wann, Grieve, Zapalac & Pease, 2008; Funk, Filo, Beaton & Pritchard, 2009; et al.). From this research perspective, and those of other researchers, it is known that sport markets vary in different countries due to economic conditions, cultures, and customs. Further, Won and Kitamura (2007, p. 95) suggest "More inter-cultural or cross-national research examining the differences in spectator motives is needed to identify how spectator motives differ by culture or location and to refine existing motivation theories." In order to address the need for continuing research on spectators' consumer motives in different countries and cultures, the authors conducted the current study in four Eastern European countries.

Like many countries of Eastern Europe, the economies of Hungary, Poland, Romania and Moldavia are characterized as in various stages of transition, as each country continues to progress from former state-run to present day market-driven economies. At the same time, admission into the European Union has introduced another transformation for the countries of Hungary, Poland, and Romania as each seeks to create economic partners with Eastern Europe countries, and others further abroad. In the field of sport, soccer dominates the competitive landscape in Eastern Europe, from intramural sport activities to semi-pro sport clubs up to professional leagues. As the economies of Hungary, Poland, Romania and Moldova progress, it is important for sport clubs and sporting event marketers to understand the motivations of spectators in these countries.

The main objective of this study was to contribute to the spectator motivation literature by examining sport consumer motives of soccer spectators in Eastern Europe. To meet the primary objective, items from existing sports consumer motivation scales were evaluated, and adapted to a survey instrument for use in each of the four countries.

SOCCER IN HUNGARY, MOLDOVA, POLAND, AND ROMANIA

Development of the sport

For most of Eastern Europe, soccer has been historically the dominant sport in terms of number of events, media presence, and attendance (Golaszewski, 2003; IRES, 2009; Kennedy, 2011). In Hungary and Poland, soccer has a very rich and diverse history as the first football divisions for sporting clubs were organized more than a hundred years ago. This happened in the 1890s and culminated in the formation of the Hungarian and Polish Football Associations in 1901 and 1906, respectively. Hungary became a member of Federation Internationale de Football Associations (FIFA) 1907, and Poland and Romania respectively in 1923 and 1930. In 1990, national soccer teams were established in the Republic of Moldova, one year before the country separated from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) (Football Federation of Moldova, 2011). The Football Association of Moldova became a FIFA member in 1994 (Federation de Internationale Football Association, 2012). …

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