A study by One Hour Translation, the world’s largest online translation agency, has revealed that Europe’s elite football clubs are expanding their marketing efforts towards markets in the Far East, Latin America and the Arab World. One Hour Translation examined the websites of the 32 teams participating in this year’s UEFA Champions League. The aim was to see how clubs are expanding their attention outside their own mother tongues: 14 competing clubs have performed Chinese language localization, 12 clubs have localized to Spanish, 11 to Arabic, 9 to Japanese and French, and 8 to Indonesian. A total of 26 teams representing non-English speaking countries (100% of such teams) have a website localized to English.
The study revealed Manchester City to be the team that invests most heavily in their localization efforts, opening the team up to different markets and target audiences. The Citizens' website is localized for 12 languages other than English: French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Chinese – Traditional and Simplified Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Malay and Thai.
Runner up FC Barcelona is operating websites in 9 other languages in addition to Spanish; English, French, Portuguese, Indonesian, Chinese – Traditional Mandarin, Arabic, Turkish, Japanese and Catalan. German club Bayern Munich FC and Olympiacos FC from Greece are tied in third place with sites adapted to 8 languages other than German and Greek, respectively. Current Champions League winner Real Madrid is fifth, with its website localized to 7 different languages in addition to Spanish. Ranking in sixth place are Paris St. Germain from France, Italian club Juventus, and Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea coming from England.
The study reveals that four clubs have added new languages to their websites in the last year, to attract new target audiences. Spanish club Sevilla FC has made the biggest change of all by adding 4 new localized versions in addition to English to the club’s website: French, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. Liverpool has added French and Spanish to theirs and Juventus and Borussia Dortmund have each added one language: Japanese and Chinese, respectively.
The most dramatic development has been for the Arab language. The number of clubs performing localization into Arabic has jumped from 6 to 11. French and Japanese came in second with the number of clubs localizing into those languages jumping from 5 to 9. In third place is Indonesian, with the number of clubs localizing their websites rising from 5 to 8, together with Korean, which shows an increase from 2 to 5 clubs. The number of clubs performing localization into Chinese has gone up from 12 to 14, to Russian from 4 to 6, and to Thai from 1 to 3. Just one club localized their website to Spanish, raising the total from 11 to 12. Portuguese grew similarly, with the total growing from 5 to 6.
Of the eight clubs reaching the Champions League quarter-final this year, six were ranked among One Hour Translation’s Localization Top Ten. Manchester City in first place, Barcelona second, Bayern Munich third, Real Madrid fifth, while Liverpool and Juventus ranked in sixth and seventh place, respectively. Sevilla made the quarter final, ranking 11th place, by increasing the number of languages it localizes to, to 5; AS Roma ranks in at 14th place, also making the quarter finals, in One Hour Translation’s study, localizing its website to 3 languages.
The survey results indicate a clear correlation between the number of localized websites and the achievements of the teams performing at both the Champions League and the Domestic League level. In the past five years (2013-2017), the teams that ended up winning in the Champions League, have translated their websites into 7.6 languages on average. Data from the same period (2013-2017), for Europe’s Top Five football leagues, show the most recent winners translated an average of 6.56 websites into foreign languages, other than their native tongues. In 2016, England’s league champion, Leicester City, operated a single website in English only.
Outside Europe’s Top Five leagues, the team investing most heavily in localization is Greece based Olympiacos FC, a participant in the Champions League, with their site translated into eight different languages in addition to Greek: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Portuguese and Russian.
Only one team, Celtic FC, hasn't leveraged its participation in the Champions League to approach new markets through localization.
Yaron Kaufman, One Hour Translation’s Chief of Marketing and Co-Founder, commented: “The survey results indicate that the elite clubs in Europe understand that the process of localizing to other languages translates into achievements in the field, strengthening the club’s standing with fans, both financially and sports wise, and has the potential in connecting with audiences of hundreds of millions of football fans in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. These teams demonstrate how the relatively small investment in translation of a website can trigger a chain reaction, starting with the sale of promotional items such as T-shirts, going on to higher royalty payments from foreign broadcasting rights and culminating in increased profits, enabling them to acquire top players and elevating their chances of winning future matches. It is important that football clubs participating in the prestigious global football arena to implement localization processes that will add to both their economic and their sporting power.”