ICT and the Communication Strategy of the Sports Organizations: an Analysis of the Spanish Professional Football League
Sport contributes to the process of globalization and, at the same time, is affected by the same process (Moragas, et al: 2003). Sport has been important for the economical, political, social, cultural and communication changes that have occurred since the beginning of the 21st Century. For this reason, sport has been an omnipresent phenomenon in contemporary society. Some authors point to the existence of a global culture (Anderson & Cavanagh, 2000). For this reason, we believe that in this global culture, the sports industry must appear as a new research subject. On the one hand, it is estimated that the sports industry generates $213 to $350 billion per year in revenues (Shank, 2002: 6). On the other hand, clubs use the mass media (television, radio and newspapers) and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), such us Internet and mobile telephone, in their corporate communication strategies (Van Riel, 1995). The application of ICTs to the sports industry has direct consequences for the communication phenomenon as a whole process. The communication dynamics are different between the clubs and other social institutions (mass media, other industries or political organizations), between clubs and fans and between fans and other fans. The sports organizations have the possibility to expand a universal culture through the use of ICTs, such as the Internet with all its opportu- nities and risks. But, above all, we can question if the application of ICTs in the communication department of soccer clubs has been followed by an efficient program for running these organizations, because, nowadays, a lot of them have to deal with a series of economic problems. Our research will study this paradox, using the concepts of strategic marketing and ICTs and finally, applying them to the Spanish Professional Soccer League. The main objective of this research will be to explore the uses of ICTs in communication and marketing strategies of the sports institutions: between them, between the sports industry and other social and political organizations (governments, international federations and sponsoring companies) and between the fans of the soccer clubs. Our research will analyze the communication strategy of the clubs which belong to the Spanish Professional Soccer League (LFP). Although our research will be focused on the Spanish soccer league, we will use a comparative study between the Spanish clubs, the English clubs (as leaders of the European sports industry) and some north-American franchises (MSL), as the leaders of the global sports industry.