In an era of globalization in professional sports, the Major Soccer League (MLS), North America’s top professional soccer league, aims at expanding its share of this strategic pro sports market and to increase its popularity abroad. Regarding the latter, multiple MLS clubs lately revisited their names and/or logos towards of a more “European” look and feel. The FC Montréal, formerly known as Impact de Montréal, proceeded with such major changes in 2021, widely rejected by the club’s fan base and the general population of Montreal. The club had to get back to the drawing board and came back in 2022 with a second version of their logo and identity, this time applauded by main stakeholders. Relying on conversations with FC Montréal’s managers, on analysis of reactions in local press and social medias, and on theoretical contributions, we mobilize sociological (identity, socialization, performance) and strategic (non-market strategies, globalization, values) lenses to illustrate decisions, tensions, turnarounds and trade-offs that FC Montréal had to go through, in order to crystalize its new identity, name and logo within a Montreal sociodemographic context in evolution. Our findings could provide pro sports organisations with clear guidelines as to how consider and balance their local context and their international presence when modifying or redefining their organisational identity. While this example is not unique, the Francophone and highly multicultural nature of a city like Montreal adds context and depth to the analysis of this case.
Professor and Director, Management, HEC Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Team Identity, Fans Base, Values, Pro Soccer, Tensions