Sunday, July 04, 2010

Dutch Football Misses a Golden Opportunity

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Travelling in West Africa, I have always been amazed at the popularity of UK football clubs. It is basically thanks to the World Sport programme on the BBC World Service - and the fact that local bookmakers are offering bets on the outcome. They may be crap at the game - but they are geniuses when it comes to marketing and sharing the passion.

Meanwhile, Dutch football is on a roll, having reached the quarter finals of the World Cup. Some clubs like AJAX Amsterdam are doing great coaching schemes in South Africa but, in general, the Dutch football club sites like Ajax Amsterdam are not much more than a little-bit-of-news site in English and Mandarin, with the addition of a shop. There is no way a signed up fan can really be involved in the magic of what's happening in Amsterdam or Rotterdam or most of the other sites (I think PSV Eindhoven is an exception). The Dutch clubs seem to be very insular for the most part, just doing a tiny fraction on-line when compared to other European clubs, like Celtic or Barcelona.

May be the problem is the Royal Dutch Football Association, KNVB, which seems to have one of the most passionless websites I have ever seen. It's all about money. Let's make sure we don't share any of the passion to foreign visitors unless it runs out on the playing field. KNVB have had a terrible history when it comes to the media - being control freaks. Their efforts to launch a pay-TV channel in the Netherlands called Sport 7 ended in tears. They attempted to control the way Dutch football fans would celebrate the return of their heroic team in Amsterdam on Tuesday 13th July. KNVB sold exclusive rights to the tea'm's boat to the SBS channel, until a deal was struck with the NOS. KNVB radiates the story of money, not about the game. If they continue that, then the Dutch football success will quickly sink behind the UK's sports media strategy.
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