DFB study: Youth tournaments can boost interest in football

A study undertaken by the German Football Association (DFB) has found that hosting youth tournaments can increase interest in football among the general public.


The German Football Association (DFB) based their findings on the UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship held in Baden-Württemberg in July 2016, and found that hosting competitions can also improve the image perception of a national association by almost 15 percent.

One of the main reasons why the DFB ordered the research, which was carried out by the accadis University Bad Homburg, near Frankfurt, was to ascertain whether hosting youth tournaments, which generate no financial profit, is a worthwhile experience, especially in regards to improving the perception of the national association in question.

The 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship was held in Baden-Württemberg.
The 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship was held in Baden-Württemberg.©Sportsfile

“The study shows that hosting UEFA youth tournaments indeed has a positive impact on the reputation of the entire national association,” said Dr Kyung-Yiub Lee, who was the DFB tournament director for the UEFA European Under-19 finals in 2016. “For a tournament, which is always an investment, this is a pleasant discovery.”

The DFB findings have the potential to be important for the future plans of other national associations around Europe. The evidence from Germany shows that the more they invest in hosting youth tournaments, the greater the chance of increasing not only the association’s image, but also the number of people who become interested in the sport.

The report showed that the reach of a youth tournament can extend beyond those who go to watch matches, and that the considerable resources invested by the DFB into promoting the competition were worthwhile. These communications were focused particularly in engaging closely with selected schools in the area, to make children more aware that the tournament was taking place. 

The study also found that UEFA youth tournaments also have a positive impact on the reputation of the national association.
The study also found that UEFA youth tournaments also have a positive impact on the reputation of the national association.©Sportsfile

“It is becoming obvious that the DFB school campaigns are paying off, and it is good news for event organisers to learn that youth target groups can be activated this way,” said Prof Dr Florian Pfeffel, who is the president and professor for sport management at the accadis University Bad Homburg. “This means that the scope of the event can be raised beyond the theoretically limited capacity of a stadium.”

Nevertheless, the authors of the study do urge caution in regards to their findings, following their initial foray into the investigation of the effects of youth tournaments. Data was only taken from one competition and, in the future, results from other youth tournaments in both football and other sports could be added, in order to add more weight to their arguments.

“Image studies in the realm of youth tournaments are still in their infancy. A first step has been taken here, and it should be expanded in future tournaments,” Dr Pfeffel concluded.

There is evidence that international youth tournaments are becoming more popular, with research showing that attendances are growing at the tournaments. The average attendance at UEFA’s four youth competitions at Under-17 and Under-19 level for both men and women from 2012 to 2014 was 1,760. However, the next three tournaments in 2015, 2016 and 2017 saw this figure rise to 2,707 spectators – an increase of 54%.