There was a time when the notion of watching a big match involved going to the pub with your mates or commanding the TV in your sitting room.
Even (shock horror) saving a few bob, buying a tent and interrailing with your friends to be there.
Not so much any more it would seem.
And major tournament organisers are now really worried about how to recruit the fans of tommorrow.
It seems the modern soccer fan, those aged 16 to 24 anyway, inhabit a landscape in which traditional TV sports broadcasting is in decline, and platforms are in the ascendant.
These young fans apparantly feel like 'a generation priced out of the live game'.
Yet thanks to the proliferation of social platforms, they enjoy greater - and closer - access to soccer and general sports content and players than any generation before them.
Their behaviours, their values and their motivations are now transforming the sports and media landscape of today.
An online survey in the UK by the Copa 90 website of 16 to 24 year olds indicates the changes starkly.
- 50% of these fans start looking for content related to an upcoming fixture 1-3 days before the game
- 29% a day after the game.
- 96% watch live football on TV,
- 76% watch football highlights online (rising to 78% for 16-19 year olds).
- 84% watched football highlights on TV in the last 30 days.
Old voices of authority are said to be losing their appeal.
These fans say they are less willing to settle for 'tired TV punditry that chooses to focus on refereeing decisions rather than 'interesting and passionate analysis.'
As well as that, 31% of fans are no longer able to attend a live game. This is a generation for whom socialising in digital spaces is a more comfortable (and cheaper) experience than interacting in person, and through digital they enjoy a shared viewing experience.
A typical match day for them revolves around streaming or watching the game, with constant checking of social feeds to find memes and relevant info to share in their WhatsApp group chats with friends.
An important aspect of this behaviour is that they pull in a patchwork of perspectives during games.
So they are not only connected to friends and fellow fans but also rival fans, journalists and general online commentators - a far-reaching network of relevant voices that add texture to their viewing experience.
Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and any other hot new platform are the new fan recruitment and retention battlegrounds if you are a sports organisation.
Playing video games is also a key part of their sports experience and these are the people rejoicing in the proposed release of FIFA 19 in September.
Therefore another key marketing vehicle for the world governing body.
FYI - the next installment in the iconic football franchise will be released on September 28, 2018 and will feature a Champions League experience.
For those salivating at the news the trailer is below. I will still try and enjoy the real life match day experience!