­The Malta Football Association yesterday hosted a Football Symposium at the Mediterranean Conference Centre that discussed ‘Opportunities in the Digital World’.

The Symposium attracted several keynote speakers who gave their insight on the effects of digital media in football as well as the world eSports that is slowly growing every year.

Matthew Paris, the Malta FA vice-president, said that the symposium was an eye opener for the local governing body of football and local clubs to learn about new challenges that could help us bring our fans closer to the game.

“The idea of the symposium was to bring closer together the world of digital media and football,” Dr Paris told the Times of Malta.

“For us today’s symposium is just the start. On Thursday we had a look at a number of eSports initiatives and therefore we will have a campaign on eSports initiatives which will be launched in collaboration with the gamers.com.mt and the Times of Malta.

“Today, we looked at different digital marketing perspectives and the opportunities that the digital platform can offer to help football become stronger and eventually move forward.

“Maltese football has been struggling with low attendances and I believe that if we had to look at the game from a different perspective we can address these problems with new initiatives such as the ones we discussed this morning we can get stronger.”

Looking at the future, the MFA vice-president has encouraged the clubs to embrace these new opportunities.

“Everyone who was present today, including the club representatives, could see these new opportunities and try and make the most of them,” Dr Paris said.

“Still I think that the MFA also has to regenerate itself and look at eventual perspectives. In the next few months, the MFA will embark on an eSports campaign that will certainly boost our league championships.

“We are planning to make a proper launch where we will intro-duce new initiatives that will be complimentary with our domestic championships.

“There are some who think that eSport could be a threat to our leagues, I don’t agree and believe that it is an opportunity to enter new markets where people who love football but do not come to the stadiums we can enter into their house and invite them to come to us.

“The Malta FA must open its doors to everyone and it’s an opportunity that we have to take with both hands.”

UEFA Head of Marketing Activities Roman Putsch. Photo: Chris Sant FournierUEFA Head of Marketing Activities Roman Putsch. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Among the keynote speakers yesterday was SkyItalia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio who gave a lengthy overview of his modus operandi as a football reporter and how he uses social media to engage with football fans and to provide the latest transfer news to his audience.

UEFA’s Head of Marketing Activities Roman Putsch spoke of how UEFA managed to develop the Champions League into a digital phenomenon.

He said that the UEFA’s top club competition has an audience of 160 million worldwide and that is mostly through its digital engagement with the football fans around the continent.

FIFA Director of eFootball & Gaming Christian Volk gave a deep insight into the world of eSports.

At the end of the symposium Italy World Cup winner Gianluca Zambrotta attended a Q&A session with Times of Malta reporter Gianluca Lia during which he spoke about his career achievements and experiences and also gave his views on the effect of social media in the life of footballers.

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