• Study authored by sport psychologists on behalf of UEFA Champions League sponsor, Mastercard finds fans can boost a team’s performance by an extra player

  • Fans are being encouraged to show how a ball can #StartSomethingPriceless by sharing their goal celebrations on social media

WATERLOO, 22 May 2018 - Liverpool F.C. and Real Madrid C.F. may have a secret weapon as they take in the UEFA Champions League final this weekend: their fans.

As an Official Sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, Mastercard commissioMC_UCL_Infographic_Five Tips-01ned a report on the impact of celebrations and discovered the roar of football fans can boost a team’s performance to be equivalent to having an additional player on the pitch and that the attitude on the ground by the players can also have a positive impact on the end result.

The role of the 12th man is valuable. Hearing and seeing frequent support from the crowd via cheering, flags, banners and scarves can influence player psychology and boost effort levels by up to 8%. That’s an entirely new player on the field when taking into account the impact across all 11 members on the pitch.

The first of its kind European-wide study also revealed the way a player celebrates could be the secret to overall victory. The team behind the research found that different celebrations were associated with a team winning or losing. Specifically, that:

  • 82% of players who expanded both their arms ended up on the winning team

  • 79% of players who made fists with both their hands ended up on the winning team

  • 77% of players who puffed out their chest after scoring ended up on the winning team

Moreover, data collated showed that teams who celebrated by hugging, high-fiving or other physical interaction were 50% more likely to win. Whilst the “non-celebration was found to be the worst celebration, with 49% of these players ending up on the losing team.

The study pinpointed UEFA Champions League top goal scorer Christiano Ronaldo’s “power pose” as the most likely celebration to lead to further team success. The researchers proposed that players should consider expansion of the chest, taking up as much space as possible, lifting the head up and spreading the feet at least shoulder width apart when celebrating.

Fans smiling at players can also make a huge impression on team performance. The study showed that seeing people smile led to athletes working at maximum effort for up to 12% longer than those who saw negative faces.’

In the buildup to the final, fans are being encouraged to share their goal celebrations on social media with #StartSomethingPriceless. Sports psychologist and author of the report, Bradley Busch who is one of the leading experts in the field of applied sport psychology offers his top five tips to be a Priceless fan:

  1. Be loud and proud – vocal support can make your team try up to 7% harder and help block out their fatigue

  2. Sing regularly – more is better and can help maintain a great atmosphere for the players

  3. Show your support – banners, flags and placards are clear visual signs of great support and have been found to boost players by up to 8%

  4. Smile – hope, pride and happiness are great motivators and can be shown by smiling. This can result in players working at their maximum intensity for up to 12% longer

  5. Both fans of the UEFA Champions League 2018 finalists should wear their home kit, as red and white (for different reasons) are associated with enhanced performance

Jeannette Liendo, SVP Marketing Europe Mastercard said: “Whilst much of our lives is moving contactless, physically interacting with your team mates whilst celebrating could be the secret to success on the pitch. Mastercard is a proud partner of the beautiful game and its fans. With over 20 years of UEFA Champions League celebrations already enjoyed, we are looking forward to once again seeing how a ball can Start Something Priceless in Kiev for the Final on 26th May.”



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Notes to editor:

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, travelling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardEU, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

About Bradley Busch

Bradley is a Chartered Psychologist, registered with the Health Care Professional Council and has a European Certificate for Psychology. He is one of the leading experts in the field of applied sport psychology and has held posts in both academic and elite sport. To date, he has worked with international footballers from England, Scotland, Wales and Japan, as well with academy and senior players from Manchester United, Tottenham, West Ham and Watford. He currently writes two blogs for The Guardian called ‘The Science of Learning’ and ‘Lessons from Research’. He is also the author of the bestselling book, ‘Release Your Inner Drive’.

About InnerDrive

InnerDrive is a high performance psychology consultancy. Using research from psychology and neuroscience to help athletes, students and businesses perform better. Last year, InnerDrive worked with over 100 different organisations and over 50,000 delegates. In sport, this has included members of Team GB and Premiership football. Outside of sport, corporate clients include FTSE 100 companies, as well as Microsoft, Pfizer, Mitsubishi and Rothschilds. Current projects include working with the Governments Cabinet Office develop mindset and resilience, as well as preparing individual members of the England football team for the football World Cup.

Methodology behind the report

InnerDrive conducted a wide ranging literature review on the psychology of celebrations.

Inclusion criteria included the following:

o   For the section on player celebrations, we drew upon research that relates to the psychology of celebrations, team-mates communication, non-verbal behaviour and body language was examined

o   For the section on fan celebration, we drew upon research that relates to the psychology of supportive crowds, positive encouragement, evolutionary psychology and group behaviour

o   Research had to be published in peer-reviewed and internationally reputable journals

o   All research was conducted by renowned academics which included professors, doctors and senior researchers in the field of psychology, sport science and sport psychology. This resulted in research from academics from the top academic institutes, such as Harvard and Yale, being included

o   Extra weighting was placed on research done in football and on elite athletes

  • Research from across Europe and the rest of world was considered and included

  • We did not exclude any journals based on nationality, race or gender