bet365 has put together a comprehensive customer engagement strategy for the Qatar World Cup, including a free-to-play game with big cash prizes, exclusive video content and a fan survey that found 47.79% of England supporters are confident that Gareth Southgate’s men will bring the trophy home.
The F2P Tournament Predictor game, which is powered by Incentive Games, will see the top 10,000 users share a prize pool of £250,000. The overall winner will pick up £100,000 – a sum that would rise to £1 million if they produce a perfect performance and correctly predict the final standings of each group and result of every knockout game.
bet365 is also running a World Cup Fantasy Football tournament and the Four Scores Challenge, a version of its popular regular season Six Scores Challenge prediction game.
Players keen to know more about the biggest event on the global sporting calendar will have access to a dedicated World Cup section on the bookmaker’s news site. It features the latest stories from Qatar, odds updates, profiles of World Cup icons and videos starring experts such as ITV commentator Sam Matterface, Times reporter Charlotte Duncker, and the don of football stats, Opta’s Duncan Alexander.
Much of the pre-tournament content has been generated by the bet365 Fan Nation Survey, which saw thousands of supporters from around the world asked about their team’s chances in Qatar. It generated some surprising results.
It’s the hope that kills you
The survey found that confidence is high in bet365’s home UK market.
England fans who have seen their team repeatedly come up short in major tournaments since 1966 could be forgiven for thinking that international success is reserved for cricketers and women. However, 47.79% of England fans said they were ‘confident’ that their team will triumph in Qatar and finally bring it home.
And Wales supporters are almost as upbeat, as 46% of them are ‘confident’ that their first World Cup finals appearance since 1958 will finish with Gareth Bale lifting the trophy in Lusail.
Both sets of supporters expressed backing for their manager, with 92.29% of England fans supportive of Southgate and 89% of Wales fans having confidence that Robert Page is the right man to lead them.
Perhaps more shocking was the discovery that a staggering 89% of US fans are ‘confident’ their team will win the World Cup, despite them being 150/1 outsiders and in what – according to the FIFA World Rankings, at least – is the tournament’s toughest group.
The optimism of fans about the USMNT’s chances came as a surprise to one of England’s Italia 90 heroes, John Barnes.
“I don’t think they can do it at all, but I know that they think they can do it. My sisters live in America and I grew up in Jamaica – we know Americans. They are very similar to Australians, they have this attitude that they can win everything, so they do better than they should,” said Barnes.
“It’s a good trait to have. As much as we’re thinking ‘it’s a throwaway line, they’re pretending’, they really do believe it. Mainly because of their American-ness.
“And this is not a criticism because that’s what makes them the great people they are. They don’t know that they shouldn’t be getting to the World Cup quarter-finals because the other teams are better than them. So, it’s a great trait to have, but if you’re asking me whether I think they’re misguided I would say ‘probably yes’.”
Less surprising was the identity of the only two sets of fans more confident of success than the Americans – because in both cases they have genuine cause for optimism. 91.12% of Argentina fans believe they can follow up their Copa America triumph by claiming football’s biggest prize, while 89.15% of Brazil fans expect the Seleção to become champions for the sixth time.
Come on Harry, do it for bet365!
The findings of bet365’s Fan Nation Survey suggest that some England fans are dreaming of dancing round the pub while twirling lager-soaked football shirts above their heads and hollering Three Lions as they watch the soon-to-be Sir Harry Kane lift the trophy. However, the betting action indicates that many others can already hear the strains of Stop Crying Your Heart Out soundtracking the opening scenes of the BBC’s customary downbeat exit montage.
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “Make no mistake, we’d take an England win with Harry Kane doing the business once again, because there’s not much interest in them.”
He added that France and Germany are also “on the drift” as punters have instead piled on Argentina and Brazil in the Outright Winner market, leaving the bookmaker with liabilities running into millions. The markets for Top Goalscorer and Player of the Tournament are also dominated by South American stars.
“We’ve only ever had one all-South American Final and that was the inaugural World Cup with limited teams from Europe, but with the business we’ve seen in the lead-up to the 2022 showpiece, our customers are predicting something similar to 1930,” said Freeth.
“As you’d expect, if customers think that the big two in the betting are going to do well then support for another big two, Messrs Neymar and Messi, goes hand-in-hand. And if we avoid them then we’ve got Lautaro Martinez to worry about, having already taken over 6,000 bets on him to finish top of the scoring charts.”