Today I came across an interesting article about a Mexican soccer team that put each player’s Twitter handle on that player’s jersey, as well as the the team sponsor’s Twitter handle on all the players’ jerseys. That team is Club de Fútbol Jaguares de Chiapas, and it turns out they weren’t the first soccer team to put Twitter handles on their jerseys; Spanish club Valencia CF put their Twitter handle on the team jerseys when problems came up in guaranteeing the club a shirt sponsor for the year. What is even more interesting about Valencia’s particular case is that the Twitter handle was actually in the place that is usually reserved for shirt sponsors.
Last year, I created a social media plan for the Miami Heat as part of a class assignment, and had I had an idea like this one, I believe I could of done much better. Personally, I haven’t encountered too many stories like this one, and I actually haven’t seen any sports team use Twitter handles this way. The clubs are not only promoting themselves, but in the case of Valencia, it also shows that the club is more committed to putting its name out there than it is to generating a profit. And in the case of Jaguares, the club has made it extremely appealing to advertise on its jerseys by offering sponsors a new medium for advertising.
There has been a long debate in the soccer world about shirt sponsors and how putting the logo of a company on your jersey makes you similar to an advertising billboard. For example, Spanish club Barcelona were heavily criticized last year when they ended a club policy that didn’t allow them to have paid shirt sponsors. The other concern is that these companies might have a conflict of interest with the club sometime down the line. Many clubs have been accused of “selling out;” two of Europe’s biggest teams, Real Madrid and AC Milan, are sponsored by BWin, Europe’s largest online sports betting company, which inevitability causes some to raise eyebrows. On the other hand, using that same infamous shirt space for something that encourages fan involvement can positively affect how fans view their relationship with the club.