• Daniel Ayers

The International Language of Football (or not)

This is an interesting piece of video from FC Barça; aimed at international fans, with a presenter, in English, it's an examination of 'strategic goals', which turns out to mean 'set piece goals'.


[Video no longer available]


So, a nice deep profile piece for fans who are already engaged with the club (I saw it because it was featured in their weekly English-language email newsletter, which is very well produced).


The execution is a bit lacking, though- the English script is clearly not written by a native speaker, and although the presenter's english is very natural, she doesn't appear to be a subject expert (otherwise you'd presume she would have spotted some of the mistakes in language, around "slips" in particular).


The net effect is that the phrases used are a little laughable to UK football fans, e.g.:

"Rakitic sends a precise cross pass into the area which Leo [Messi] uses to shoot with his head"

Additionally, to a UK audience the idea of a 'strategic goal' would not be restricted to set pieces, but would include goals which are the result of a deliberate open-play tactic (high pressing, overlapping fullbacks, being Harry Kane, etc).


I'm sure that the UK is not as high a priority for FCB as the US, or the general international audience who see soccer through a more Americanised prism. And you shouldn't be critical of a piece of content just because you don't like the presentation, if you're not the intended audience.


However, tolerance for sub-optimal language and idioms does not tend to be high anywhere- I'd be interested to hear if the presentation seems clunky to anyone from outside UK/ Europe?


It highlights the difficulties of trying to segment content for non-local audiences; your understanding of multiple international markets has to be really spot on to avoid these issues in execution.


Being 70% right is better than doing nothing, of course, and FCB are well ahead of most clubs in terms of their internationalisation.


At Seven League we've been helping some clients on how to approach content internationalisation/ localisation, and there's no shortcut to getting it 100% right. You ideally need people in-market, and they need to be good enough to be able to take your centrally produced content and make it relevant and appropriate to local fans (or good enough to make the content themselves). None of which is cheap.


But with the growth areas for most major European clubs being international (mostly either US or Asia), it's something everyone will need to get good at.

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