The community of fans: Real Madrid brings their supporters closer to the team

In this digital age, the idea of community is changing rapidly. Online and social-based channels have created new ways of connecting with others who share similar beliefs, interests and passions. While some may be rightfully concerned that online social communications are not a substitute for human interaction, I continue to be fascinated with the ways people are finding to connect and share their passions.

Last November, Microsoft announced a collaboration agreement with Real Madrid – ranked the “best club of the 20th century” – that accelerates the digital transformation of the club through technology. A new digital platform is at the center of this transformation, supported by Azure, Office 365, Dynamics, among other key products. As I wrote in our company blog, this partnership is about so much more than a business partnership, but an opportunity to truly put fans at the center of sport, and revolutionize the way in which “Madridistas” follow their team and share their passion for the club. More important is connecting fans with fans in new ways to enhance and extend their community. Our first step in that journey has been taking place over the past several weeks.

Typically, fans collect trading cards or stickers of their favorite sports stars. But to really put fans at the center, we reversed the roles and asked fans to send their cards to the players. Together with Real Madrid, we helped fans create the first-ever digital “fan sticker album” by uploading their photo to www.connectyourpassion.com. Thousands of fans from over 100 countries came together to complete the album, which can now be seen online.

On Thursday, March 12, we bring together 12 lucky participants of the album who will have the chance to interview three of the Real Madrid players in a Q&A session live via Skype. The players can interact with fans as their “12th player” – signifying the importance of the fans during the entire game to show their support. All fans together are the “12th player” – as a community they are stronger than any athlete on the pitch.

Any “fan” would jump at the chance to meet their favorite celebrity from movies, TV or from the stadium. Yet what I find most remarkable, particularly about the sports community, is the magic of what happens when the community comes together. Fan to fan, there is a common bond, a sense of identity and shared passion that shapes our mantra for the partnership – “Passion Powers Passion.”

Strong communities are built on a sense of connectedness: people coming together and interacting on a shared and relevant purpose. This is what our partnership with Real Madrid is all about – bringing people together in a different dimension of community and connectedness. Technology is only an enabler, playing a supporting role while showcasing the community of fans as the stars of the show.

Watch the online event Thursday, March 12 – we welcome you as part of our community.

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