Participating in the FIFA Club World Cup 2023 has been much more than just a sports event; it has been an unforgettable journey that took me from my small Costa Rica to the exotic Arab country where this thrilling tournament unfolded. This journey made me reflect on the opportunities that football has presented in my life. However, I must admit that getting here hasn’t been an easy task.
Year after year, I’ve sought opportunities all around the world, receiving more rejections than I’d like to admit. But every time I get the chance to work in an event of this magnitude, I remind myself of how crucial it is to persevere in pursuing our dreams.
In this FIFA Club World Cup 2023, I was part of the Infotainment area, a facet of the event that few are familiar with. Infotainment covers the pre-match and halftime entertainment, reminding us that a football match is ultimately an entertainment event for those in the stadium. Coordinating with areas like marketing, communication, security, and competition, in addition to managing paid advertising spaces in specific events, are just some of the responsibilities falling under this sector.
My role as a Talent Manager starts two days before each match, with long work days, as we practice absolutely everything that will happen in the event, from the opening of gates to protocol activities and, of course, the entertainment itself. In my position, I must follow the production lines, finding strategic locations so that, at the time of the event, the audio and camera shots are perfectly synchronized and approved by the team.
In the football world, I’ve learned that one must be prepared for any adventure. As a curious note, during one of the rehearsals, I had to take the microphone and practice as if I were the official event host. This experience opened a future opportunity, demonstrating that versatility is an invaluable virtue in this field.
Now, delving into the matchday experience, the first hours demand serenity and calmness, as the energy must be sustained throughout the day:
- Approximately 8 hours before the game, we walk around the field, greeting everyone ready for the football celebration. Sound tests and camera positions take place around 6 hours before the match, while gates open 4 hours before the event begins.
- Two hours before kick-off, we come into play, and this is where our energy must be at its peak. Interacting with fans, jumping, and laughing with them are among my favourite moments. However, I can’t forget that I must constantly find the perfect space for the next segment, motivating the audience and preparing them for what’s to come.
- With 14 minutes left, the countdown begins, working in collaboration with the competition team to achieve a perfect start to the game. The adrenaline reaches its highest when seeing the clock strike 9:00:00 pm and hearing the whistle, marking the start of the match.
The second part comes at halftime when we ask the stadium to light up their cell phone lights, simulating “Sky Full of Stars” (like Coldplay’s famous song), creating a unique magic between a dark stadium, the music, and the spirit of football.
At the end of the night, there’s a lingering adrenaline rush that I haven’t experienced at any other moment. Sleeping a few hours after the event, with the adrenaline subsiding, concludes each intense workday.
This is how my days unfold working with the Infotainment team: living amidst entertainment shows, experiencing football from the front row, and constantly reminding myself that every shared smile is an opportunity to inspire more fans to fall in love with what I deeply cherish: football.