This research was part of a project measuring the costs and benefits of Euro 2000. The project was funded by the Netherlands Board for Tourism, the Ministries of Economic Affairs ; Internal Affairs ; and Sports and Health ; and the cities of Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven and Rotterdam. The Ph.D. thesis Costs and benefits of major sports events : a case study of Euro 2000 was accepted as a thesis at the Sheffield Hallam University in September 2005 and is published as Oldenboom (2006).
- 1 Smith (2001) also mentions Barcelona as a success story, but only with reference to its football st (...)
1Major sports events like World Championships Football have become a very valued commodity among countries and larger cities worldwide, leading to fierce bid competitions. The success of specific international sports events demonstrated the potential positive impact of an event on the image of a city. Often cited examples are the Olympic games in Los Angeles in 1984, Barcelona in 1992 and Sydney in 2000 (Botella, 1995 ; Van den Berg, 2000 ; Gratton and Taylor, 2001)1. Furthermore, investments in sports stadiums and events have become a part of a long-term re-imaging strategy in Western cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Sydney, Baltimore, Barcelona, Sheffield, Manchester, Rotterdam and Turin (Kotler et al., 1993 ; Hamilton and Kahn, 1997 ; Dobson, 2000 ; Van den Berg et al., 2000 ; Hall, 2001 ; Gratton and Taylor, 2001).
2From the 1970s on many of these cities faced a decline of their economic base, as industrial production shifted to lower income countries. A strategy of diversification and reorientation towards other, leisure-oriented, functions is therefore part of an intended city renaissance and place marketing strategy (Kotler et al., 1993). Another common feature of these cities is that they are often challengers to the capital city (Henry and Gratton, 2001).
3Often industrial cities suffering economic stagnation cannot fall back on a strong culture and arts sector. A historical and attractive city centre might be lacking as well, because of the relatively short history of many industrial cities, at least as major cities. An important problem for many industrial cities is their image of places to work, but not to live.
- 2 Another contributory factor is the traditional strong presence of popular cultural expressions in i (...)
4The media play a crucial role in the production and distribution of images (Whannel, 2002). The intense media attention for major sports events is no doubt the key factor explaining the bond between sports events and place marketing (Smith, 2001). Probably television broadcasting (still) has the most impact (although its position may be challenged by the Internet)2.
5Furthermore, it is known from empirical research that the inhabitants of a host city generally value the impact of a major event on image and awareness of their city higher than the economic impact (Delamere, 2001 ; Carlsen et al., 2001 ; Meerwaarde, 2001 ; Fredline et al., 2003). In line with these findings, Emery (2001) finds that public bodies in the UK consider these effects more important as well. Despite these findings, empirical measurement of promotional effects has received less attention in academic literature than, e.g., the issue of economic impact measurement.
6Smith (2001) conceptualises image and perception, by distinguishing two levels of image formation. According to Smith (2001) image formation of a city takes place at the functional level, which is represented through the services provided by the city, and the symbolical level, on which the city is associated with specific values. According to Smith, sports have the potential to address both levels (see also Hankinson, 2004, for a discussion and alternative conceptualization).
7Solberg and Gratton (2000) conducted empirical research on media impact of sports events. However their focus is on the magnitude of spectators, not on the impact on their perception of a host city.
8Ritchie and Smith (1991) is one of the few attempts to quantify the awareness effects. Awareness of Calgary in foreign countries was measured before and after the Winter games.
9This article presents some results of a survey conducted during the European Championship Football, which was hosted by cities in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2000 (Euro 2000). The aim was to measure the impact of this major sports event on the awareness and image of the Netherlands and the four Dutch host cities, i.e. Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven and Rotterdam in other European countries, similar to the study by Ritchie and Smith (1991). Image formation of a city is a complex social-psychological process, and it is not intention here to give insights into this process as such. As the study was part of a cost-benefit analysis, the main purpose was to provide insights on the question whether a sports event can contribute to a improved awareness of a city abroad, or even improve the image of a city and whether these effects should be counted among the major benefits (Oldenboom, 2006).
10From 10 June to 2 July 2000, the Netherlands and Belgium were the host countries for the final round of the European Football Championship 2000, in short Euro 2000. This championship is among the largest sports events in the world, with around 1.2 million spectators coming to the matches, and a cumulative TV audience of around 7 billion (Solberg and Gratton, 2000).
11Before and after the event, an international survey was conducted in five European countries. The survey was conducted by telephone in Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy. These countries were chosen because of the size of their population and therefore their importance for the Dutch tourism industry. The objective of this survey was to measure the impact of the event on image and name awareness of the host cities Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven and Rotterdam and the Netherlands itself. Two cities that were not host cities, Utrecht and Groningen, were included as well. This was done to differentiate between a general change in awareness and a specific one for the host cities.
12A secondary objective was to collect information on the impact of Euro 2000 on the intention to visit the Netherlands. For each country approximately two times 200 persons were interviewed by CATI (Computer Aided Telephone Interviews) (total 2,024, see Table 1). The telephone numbers were drawn by random digit dialling by a market research institute, Interview*NSS. In order to make sample as representative as possible the person of each household over 15 years of age, closest to his or her birthday was asked to the telephone. The interviews were conducted by native speakers. The first wave was interviewed from 3 until 11 December 1999, the second wave from 4 until 21 September 2000. The first wave was just before the drawing of the group selection for Euro 2000, which was 12th of December. The interviews were conducted during the evening. If there was no answer, the number was repeatedly recalled, in total 6 times. An appointment was made if the right respondent wasn’t present or didn’t have time to answer. The results were weighed by the background variables (Nielson) region, age, sex and income.
13The image statements in the questionnaire were rotated to avoid bias caused by the sequence of the statements. Table 1 documents the response for each wave.
Table 1. Response of the survey in five European countries.
14The aim of the survey in different European countries was to have an indication of the promotion value of the event for the Netherlands. Five European countries were surveyed : France, Germany, the UK, Italy and Spain. As will be illustrated later on, the sportive performance of their respective teams may have influenced the attitude in different countries towards the event. A country which wins the finals may have followed the event more closely than a respondent in a country which has never passed the first rounds. This might reflect on the awareness about and image of the host cities. Fortunate enough for this research, the performance of the surveyed countries was quite diverse. Germany and England had the poorest performance ; both were eliminated before the quarterfinals. Spain reached the quarterfinals, but was then defeated (by France). Italy and France both reached the final, which was won by France.
15To have an impact on the mind of respondents, it is a prerequisite that they follow the tournament, e.g. watch the matches on TV. Therefore it was asked beforehand and afterwards whether the respondent was going, or had watched the matches. Subsequently, the respondents were asked whether they knew which countries had organized Euro 1996 and Euro 2000.
16Table 2 shows that the interest was the lowest in the UK and Spain and the highest in France and Germany, Italy taking the middle position. It was expected beforehand that because of the media attention and social pressures, people would be inclined to follow the championships, despite of their intention not to do so. Rather surprisingly however, less people actually followed the championships than was expected beforehand. Especially in the UK, Spain and Germany these numbers were lower. These results might be explained by the relatively poor performance of the national teams. The interest in France was quite high, and almost up to expectations, which is in line with the performance of their national team. However, somewhat out of line with the observations for other countries, the interest in Italy was (also) much lower than expected, despite the good performance of their team.
Table 2. Intention (1st) and actual watching (2nd) Euro 2000 matches (% of respondents).
17The respondents were asked if they know which countries had hosted the championship. It turns out that a majority of all respondents (i.e. including those not watching), 59.7 %, does not know which country has hosted the championship, in other words : 40.3 % of all respondents knew either Belgium, the Netherlands or both these countries have hosted the championships.
18Combining the figures from the tables above also leads to the conclusion that a part of the people who have followed the tournament has no idea where the matches they watched were actually taking place.
19How long does it take before this awareness wears off ? An approximation for this effect is shown by the figures on Euro 1996. Did the respondents remember which country hosted Euro 1996 (England) ?
20Of course, relatively many British knew that it was in their country : 19.6 % of the respondents gave the right answer. The score of Germany is also relatively high : 16.4 %. This might have to do with the fact that they won the Championship in 1996, or by a further unexplained relative high interest for this event in Germany. The last explanation would be in line with table 2. In the other countries approximately only 10 % of the population knew where the championship took place. This confirms the findings by Ritchie and Smith (1991) that an increase in awareness tends to wear off in a relatively short time span.
Table 3. Do you know in which country Euro 1996 was held ?
21To analyse any positive or negative effects of Euro 2000 on the image of the Netherlands, it is helpful to discuss the image of the Netherlands first and then look for differences between the two surveys. The first survey in December 1999 revealed that the image of the Netherlands is quite traditional and uniform in the five countries. The respondents were asked to respond whether a certain statement or concept goes well with the Netherlands or the Dutch people, did not go well with the Netherlands or the Dutch people or makes no impression. The average for all countries on a positive association is in the first column. Flowers and windmills still are the most well known trademarks of the Netherlands abroad.
22Some differences could be observed between Italians and Germans and the other countries. Italians and Germans had on average a quite positive image of the Dutch and the Netherlands. Both countries considered the Netherlands a beautiful country (3), not insignificant or small (17).
Table 4. Associations with the Netherlands and the Dutch people (first wave) (% of respondents).
23The British consider the Dutch relatively often as people like ourselves (14). However, the British have a less high opinion of the beauty of the Dutch countryside (3). Spaniards suspect that the Netherlands may be a beautiful country (3), but it is rather far away (15), small (17) and cold (13). The French agree with the Spaniards on insignificance (17) and the climate (13). However, they also have a rather negative opinion of the people living in the Netherlands (7, 9) and of the countryside (10). They are actually rather negative over the whole.
- 3 It was (also) in this respect unfortunate that a joint research with Belgium did not work out.
24The differences shown in the table are relative to the other countries in the survey. It is not possible to compare the statements in an absolute way, for it is not known how, for example, the Italians look upon other European nations than the Dutch. It could be that Italians as a rule give more positive answers to statements on other nations than the French, a sort of cultural bias. A more complete research study might also incorporate statements on countries other than the Netherlands3.
25Having no information on this matter, it is proceeded here as if there were no such cultural bias. The image statements can then be structured by making a distinction between the image of the physical characteristics (weather and landscape) and the image of the Dutch population abroad.
26Germans are of the opinion that the Netherlands is a beautiful country (high scores on beautiful and holiday destination) and the people are nice (high scores on hospitable). Italy likes the country (beautiful), but has an average perception of the inhabitants. The opinions of respondents from the UK and Spain can be considered to be exactly the opposite of each other : the UK respondents think the people are nice (similar to us), but the country is not very beautiful, while the Spaniards have the opinion that the country is beautiful (score 90.8), but the people are not particularly nice (low scores on hospitable and similar to us, but high score on reliable). The French have the worst view of both country and people : not beautiful and not very nice.
27The distribution of the opinions in several nations over these aspects can be summarized according to the following Table 5.
Table 5. Summary of the image of the Netherlands.
28Now what has happened to the image because of Euro 2000 ? The weather was very fine, so did this affect the view of the French and the Spaniards on the Netherlands as a cold country with bad weather ? No, this wasn’t the case. In general the conclusion can be that any image of the physical aspects (weather, countryside) wasn’t touched in any of the surveyed countries (Table 6).
Table 6. Changes in image of the Netherlands abroad (% of respondents).
Note : asterisk * means : significant change at the 5 % risk level
29Germany and Spain are left out of Table 6, because in these countries, no significant changes were observable. Also the statements on which none of the countries showed any significant change were removed. It is notable that the changes that could be observed mostly related to some characteristic of the Dutch people and not to any of the physical attributes of the Netherlands, like landscape, weather, etc.
30Most changes were visible in France and in Italy. Accidentally or not, both were finalists during Euro 2000. Furthermore, the changes in the minds of the French were mostly positive : after the tournament, the Netherlands was considered less insignificant, more reliable. However, the French seem to have realized that the Dutch were less similar to themselves as they thought before the tournament.
31Interesting, on the last point, the Italians and the British seem to have changed their minds the other way round : now they consider the Dutch more similar to them than before. The Italians have become less enthusiastic about the Netherlands it seems : less hospitable, less reliable and for less people a holiday destination. Perhaps this could be ascribed to an incident during the final, in which a reporter of the Italian national television was beaten and arrested by the police. The incident caused a diplomatic dip in the relationship between the two countries. However, this relation is speculative. Another aspect might be that Italy lost the final.
32After the second wave it was possible to compare the name awareness of different cities before and after the tournament. For this item spontaneous and helped awareness statements of seven Dutch cities were aggregated to total awareness per city. The cities were Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven and Rotterdam, and two non host cities Utrecht and Groningen. A general increase in awareness, caused by Euro 2000, should reflect on the host cities, but leave the awareness level of the non host cities untouched.
33At first sight, the results are rather puzzling. The name awareness of all cities has risen enormously in France, including non host cities, and also to some extent in Germany. On the other hand, the awareness in the UK has dropped off after Euro 2000, and the same happened for Spain. The results for Italy are more in line with the expectations, because here the name awareness of the participating host cities rose, and the non host cities stayed on the same level. Italy played in Rotterdam, Arnhem and Eindhoven, and Amsterdam, above all, has an awareness score of almost 100 % in every country.
34An explanation that may come to mind is the performance of the national team : France won the tournament, and the UK performed rather poorly, being eliminated before the quarterfinals. Is it possible that the British do not want to be reminded of Euro 2000 and have psychologically blocked all references, including the names of the host cities from their memory ? This however, is inconsistent with the behaviour of the Germans. The Germans performed as poor as the English, but were better in remembering the names of the host cities. And Spain did actually better than both Germany and England, reaching the quarterfinals, but scored rather poor on name awareness.
35Two cities that were not host cities were included in the survey (Utrecht and Groningen). This was done to differentiate between a general rise in awareness (a decline was not expected) and a specific one for the host cities. If the results for these cities are looked into, it is clear that there is a general trend for France and Germany (positive) and for the UK and Spain (negative).
36In search for a further explanation, it is interesting to look at the figures for the attention for the whole event (see Table 2). It can be seen that the interest was the lowest in the UK and Spain and the highest in France and Germany, Italy taking the middle position. The level of interest follows the change in name awareness quite close ; there seems to be a relationship between the interest for the event, and the change in name awareness. However, it cannot be explained how a low interest can cause a decline in name awareness. A low interest leading to a constant awareness would have been more likely.
Table 7. Changes in name-awareness of Dutch cities abroad (% of respondents).
37Regression analysis was used for testing patterns in awareness changes.
38A logistic transformation of the variable AA and AB was used (equation 1), because these variables are percentages and thus are not normally distributed. After transformation the dependent variable is bound between 0 and 1 (or 0 % and 100 %) and it can be assumed that the error distribution is more similar to the normal distribution4.
39Firstly a general increase in awareness of the host cities was tested, but this hypothesis was rejected. Secondly the data were rearranged to test for a more specific increase, namely an increase in awareness for a city in the countries which national team played in that specific country. For example, France played only in Rotterdam, so can it be shown that Rotterdam has a higher increase in name-awareness in France ? This relationship could be affirmed.
40Furthermore, it seems plausible that the interest for individual matches, and thus the impact upon name-awareness of the host city, is related to the type of match concerned : was it a group match, a quarter- or semi-final, or the final ? The expectation was that more important matches have a higher impact on awareness in the countries involved. This hypothesis was tested using regression analysis and the matches were coded according to the four types using dummies. These dummies did not yield a good explanation for the changes in awareness.
41However, if the number of the game is taken as an explanatory variable, the first number 1, the last (final) 31, a satisfactory result was found indeed. In other words : the impact on name awareness of a host city seems to increase in the course of time, during the tournament.
42Also the hypothesis of an extra general increase in awareness caused by the final in the city of Rotterdam had to be rejected. So our analysis indicates that there is no significant bonus for the host city of the final, apart from the fact that this city has the last match, and therefore a high match number.
43The t-statistic indicates whether the value of the coefficient is significantly different from zero, or in other words, whether it contributes to the explanation of the value of the awareness after the event (AA). All coefficients are significant at the 1 % uncertainty level.
44Of course, there is a strong correlation between the awareness before and after the event, which is indicated by the coefficient and t-statistic of AB. The value of the coefficient is close to 1. The most relevant coefficient is that of the host city variable : this variable is very significant, with a t-statistic of 5.9 (Table 8). The conclusion is that there has been a significant positive effect on the name awareness of a host city in those countries whose national team played. However, it should be added that these effects are not very large and are by no means on a level comparable with, for example, the effects of the Olympics (Ritchie and Smith, 1991).
Table 8. Regression on name-awareness of host cities.
45The perceived promotional effect of the event ranks highest among the intangible benefits, as perceived by the population. Ritchie and Smith (1991) were among the first to assess empirically the impact of a major sports event on the awareness of a city abroad, by comparing the awareness of Calgary abroad before and after the winter Olympics. A similar methodology was applied to assess the impact of Euro 2000 on the awareness of the host cities and the impact on the image of the Netherlands and the Dutch as a nation.
46There was no change in image of the Netherlands observable in Germany and Spain (both eliminated at an early stage in the tournament). Some changes in image were observable in France and Italy and in the UK. The changes related to characteristics of the Dutch people, not to any physical attributes of the Netherlands. The general attitude in France (the winner of the tournament) towards the Netherlands seems to have improved slightly, while in Italy it seems to have deteriorated.
47Findings on the factors that explained a rise in awareness for a host city in a specific country seem to reaffirm a very modest impact. A general rise in name awareness of the host cities could not be found. The results seem to indicate that a modest rise in name awareness for host cities is possible, but only in countries with the national team of that specific country playing there. This awareness is further determined by the timing of the match in the tournament : the later the match, the more awareness it creates. A final factor is rating (the percentage of people watching matches) of the Euro 2000 matches, which needs no further explanation.
48The effect was much less than in the case of the Calgary Olympics (Ritchie and Smith, 1991) which is not remarkable, as the Olympics are named after the host city, while the host city name is not to be found in the communication or slogan of European Championships. Furthermore, the finding by Ritchie and Smith that an increase in awareness wears off quickly is confirmed by the results on the former tournament, Euro 1996.
49Image and awareness of the Netherlands in France, the winners, seems to indicate an improvement, while especially in England (not surviving the group games) the indicators have even deteriorated. This opens the door to a series of questions that could link economic and socio-psychological research. A first question is whether this result can be reproduced ? And if so, how long does the positive impact in the winning country (France) last ? A third issue is the interaction between performance and expectations. Were the promotional effects of Euro 2000 in England so low because of the disappointment of the English ? Can disappointment have a negative impact on awareness levels of city names ? What is the role of expectations in this process ? Answers to these questions will help to understand the mechanisms of image formation and have practical relevance for host cities trying to maximize the promotional spin-off.