How entertainers are cashing in on football

Tuesday, December 13th, 2022 05:00 | By
How entertainers are cashing in on football
Comedian and TikTok star Arap Uria with football commentator Peter Drury. courtesy

Players in the entertainment sector have been cashing in on the ongoing Fifa World Cup tournament in Qatar, thanks to various creative platforms that have given them opportunities.

A good example of that are the Fifa Fan Festivals (FFFs) which essentially are official watch parties by Fifa in host cities during the football bonanza.

The FFFs emanated from successful events in the 2002 Fifa World Cup in South Korea and have been a critical part of the tournament. The festivals take place in iconic locations of the host cities and feature broadcasts of football matches on giant screens, live music concerts, parties, food, beverages and other activities.

This year the festivals have been held in London, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, SãoPaulo, Seoul and Dubai. These satellite events have complemented the main FIFA Fan Festival in Doha’s Al Bidda Park and are an opportunity not just for entertainment, but also a new emerging trend of football tourism.

“There are people who were in Doha, but never even stepped into the stadiums for a match; they were just there to party. The fan festivals have really shown me how sports and entertainment can work hand-in-hand. We should seriously think of how we can grow our football to the point where people travel to come to watch a match and we hold a concert right after that,” says Kenyan comedian Eddie Butita, who was in Doha for the World Cup.

Of all the fan festivals, however, none has generated as great excitement as the one in Dubai. Though the city is 650 kilometres away from the World Cup epicentre, it has found a way to capitalise on the football fever.

Great excitement

 Showing all the matches on arguably the largest screen in Dubai and attracting over 10,000 fans a day, the Dubai Fifa Festival is the ultimate watch party. The event is packed with loads of fun, food, games and killer music performances. So far, global stars such as Moroccan American rapper French Montana, French rapper Koba LaD, and London-born artiste Tion Wayne have performed.

All over the world, event organisers, venue owners, and showbiz suppliers of all manner are cashing in on the football craze. Blankets and Wine founder Muthoni Ndonga aka Muthoni Drummer Queen admit that the world cup presents great opportunities for creative event organisers.

Having founded the music festival 14 years ago, Muthoni holds that people in East Africa will show up and party if you just curate the right experience for them.

In her experience, festivals are not just a single business, but an ecosystem that feeds various companies and sectors. A single event creates opportunities for vendors, audio-visual companies, ticketing companies, tours and travel, logistics companies and security just to mention a few.

“Sports and entertainment interface very well. A good example is the Super Bowl halftime show, which is considered the hottest spot in showbiz. The opportunity to leverage sports in festivals remains largely untapped in Kenya. We have seen Formula 1 watch parties take root and there is room for so much more,” she tells People Daily.

From bookings for the official Fifa Fan Festivals around the world, to being paid activations in Qatar or performances at local bars in between matches, entertainers are cashing in on the tournament. Social media influencers have also captured a huge chunk of cash, with corporates sponsoring their trips to Qatar complete with front-row tickets in exchange for social media posts, and activations.

Popular Senegalese-born Italian social media personality Khaby Lame was appointed as Qatar National Bank brand ambassador. The fact that he appeared in their adverts is telling of just how much the TikTok millionaire may have been paid. Locally, influencers have also been scoring big, especially among betting companies that are looking to hype the uptake of their products around this world cup season.

Media personality

They include vlogger Mungai Eve, comedian Jaymo Ule Msee, sports content creator Fred Arocho, media personality Carol Radull, comedian Terrence Creative and comic and actor Jacky Vike aka Awinja.

Lip-synching TikToker Meshack Kiptoo Biwott aka Arap Uria has made a name for himself mimicking English football commentator Peter Drury. Uria has become a key player in the sports media ecosystem with a massive social media following to his name. Through a deal with a local sports betting company, he got a chance to visit Qatar, where he finally got to meet his icon, Drury.

In a video posted on Uria’s Twitter, Peter Drury said: “This is a genuinely funny guy. I have really enjoyed meeting him, we are enjoying each other’s company, and he is teaching me a lot about commentating.”

The World Cup has not only benefited existing stars but created new ones too. Kenya’s Abubakr Abbass, 23, soured to global stardom as the ‘metro man’, capturing the hearts and minds of the world due to his unique way of delivering his job. Seated on a tennis-umpire chair and wearing a large foam finger, he guides the hundreds of fans visiting the historic market Souq Waqif to the nearby metro station with the help of his trusted megaphone.

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