The African continent is known for its passion and drive towards football. An estimated 400 million Africans go online every week to watch European football matches, especially those featuring the continent’s most followed teams – Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Barcelona. The growth and success of the continent’s football professionals such as Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egypt’s Mo Salah and Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez has further fueled this interest and passion for European football. On Champions League football match nights, the streets and bars are filled with cheers with every kick.
It’s no surprise, then, that UEFA and Heineken have embarked on the biggest UCL Trophy tour to Africa – The first ever trophy tour since the global COVID-19 pandemic. Getting closer and experiencing the coveted UCL trophy is indeed an exciting opportunity for many African football fans.
With the presence of the Dutch football legend and AC Milan, the UEFA Champions League trophy toured the cities of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Maputo in Mozambique, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria. Fans from Congo Brazaville and Rwanda also got to experience the tour in DRC and Nigeria respectively. Clarence Seedorf. With the tour coinciding with the quarter-finals of the 2021/2022 Champions League season, football matches featuring Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Liverpool and Bayern Munich further heightened the excitement of the tour of the trophy.
How Heineken brews love with football
Heineken is the most international beer in the world, sold in 192 countries. The brand has been a sponsor of the UEFA Champions League since 2005, offering football fans the opportunity to enjoy exceptional football and have fun with the best brand of beer.
Sitting with a bottle of Heineken beer while watching a Champions League game is a common sight in various football viewing centers across Africa, so much so that the brand is called the beer of the league champions.
It’s also a warm feeling to see football fans involved in debates after the end of a Champions League match over a few bottles of Heineken beer.
For UEFA, wooing fans around the world has become even more important given the threat of losing relevance, as the case of the ‘Super League’ shows. In 2021, 12 of Europe’s top clubs – including Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan – attempted a breakaway European ‘Super League’ to woo their loyal supporters with the promise of football of superior quality. The move sparked massive outrage from fans, players, club managers and influential figures like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and former footballer David Beckham criticizing the idea. Heineken offered his support for UEFA and the UEFA Champions League with a witty social message – “Don’t drink and start a league”, which went viral and further immersed fans in a frenzy.
The African continent is one of the most populated regions in the world, with more than 1.3 billion inhabitants in 2018, which represents approximately 16% of the world’s human population. The African continent is seen as a potential market for the growth of competition and for the beer brand.
Football is the most popular sport in Africa with around 300 million Africans regularly logging on to watch the UEFA Champions League each season.
Given the continent’s population, vibrancy and passion for sport, UEFA and Heineken have therefore teamed up to take home the prestigious UEFA Champions League trophy on a tour of Africa in aim to inspire a new generation of African football fans and appreciate their love for the UEFA Champions League and Heineken.
The tour also aimed to strengthen affinity between Heineken and consumers across Africa, bringing the UEFA experience closer to the African community.
Above all, Heineken used this tour as a way to celebrate the passion of African football fans.
The Trophy Tour: a summary of the events
The 2021/2022 Heineken UCL Trophy Tour across Africa, involved stops in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique and DRC as well as unique consumer experiences, photo ops with the UCL Trophy and legends of the soccer.
The tour also included UCL quarter-final match viewing events, media visits and press conferences, all reaching 50,000 Africans directly and around 10 million through the media.
Additionally, events throughout the tour had the presence of Dutch professional football manager and former player, Clarence Clyde Seedorf, in a customized Heineken aircraft which also flew the winners of the competition across the continent.
The Union of European Football Associations is the governing body of European football. It is an association of associations, a representative democracy and the umbrella organization of 55 national football associations across Europe.