Played both on the streets and in stadiums, the beloved game of soccer has long-held global attention. In more recent times social media has spread to virtually every corner of the world with a Wi-Fi signal, and the two have naturally overlapped.
Until now this has been almost solely for entertainment, however, and there never has been an application intentionally crafted to help players and soccer clubs connect.
Victoire Cogevina, the co-founder of Gloria, aims to change that and has all the right pieces in place to make it so. By building an app as fun as TikTok, but with more practical utility, Cogevina plans to blow the doors off the barriers which keep young men and women from showcasing their talent.
From its inception, Gloria has been polished by an impressive array of tech experts ranging from Facebook executives to premier soccer club consultants. It’s a project born of passion, but from the start, Cogevina has been patient with the process.
Finding the Right Fit
As with any industry, it took Cogevina some time and first-hand experience before she saw what was lacking. “During my time at the agency SR All Stars, I started meticulously observing the way young players were interacting with the sport,” explains Cogevina.
“And most of them were using social media channels like Instagram and Facebook to create community and gain visibility. Those products were never intended for the football world, and are difficult for most to use as a scouting tool or even to effectively connect with others around the world.”
The soccer players of tomorrow communicate differently than those of yesterday and today. There’s so much content on the internet it’s easier for them to default to what they know, even if it isn’t the best tool for the job.
While in-person interaction will always have high value, it just isn’t possible to put all the relevant parties in the same room or even city these days. Gloria circumvents both these obstacles and opens up opportunities that otherwise would be lost.
While Gloria plans to expand their network well beyond any geographical or political borders, Cogevina and her team have kept their minds on the small details as well.
“When I met first Matias, who had spent several years at Facebook as the head of Product Partnerships, we immediately hit it off,” Cogevina says. “We started talking about what a great online football experience would look like. We quickly realized that we had to build a product designed for mobile and make it as engaging as possible.”
A custom shirt will always feel better than a generic one, and the same logic holds true for social media. It’s not enough to just make a quality product these days, it must be designed for its intended audience.
With billions of viewers and millions of aspiring athletes, it’s safe to say in this respect Gloria has selected a lucrative market ready for someone to offer a compelling service.
The Goals of Gloria
You cannot score without first knowing where the goal is, and Gloria is committed to using their social media platform as a catalyst for cultural change.
“We believe that a product like Gloria could change the way players get discovered and level the playing field for women trying to make a name for themselves,” says Cogevina. “I dream that one day a young boy might watch a video on Gloria of a girl crushing a trick shot and appreciates her footballing talent without caring about her gender.”
Studies have long shown the issue of gender inequality continues to plague everything from politics to sports, but soccer in particular has been slow to implement improvements. While one social media app alone won’t be able to tackle the issue, it can sow the seeds of change in the next generation.
These early positive impressions add up and will take effect when the youth of today eventually become the leaders of the world. By keeping the focus on the player’s abilities in regards to soccer, Gloria avoids the common pitfalls of other social media platforms which usually veer into more superficial territory.
Young men and women alike who might lack the means for conventional connections to soccer clubs can still thrive through Gloria. This caught the attention of Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit, who sees the larger cultural opportunity in play.
“As a new owner of a women’s professional football team, I’m impressed and motivated by the work that Victoire and her team at Gloria are doing. By leveling the playing field for the next generation of talent, Gloria opens up opportunities indiscriminate of connections or financial means. What’s even more thrilling to me as a fan, is that we may very well discover the game’s next Alex Morgan or Megan Rapinoe on Gloria.”
Making soccer more accessible for all is not just ethically sound, it will increase the overall quality of play in time, and Ohanian isn’t alone in his enthusiasm. Razmig Hovaghimia, angel investor, fellow advisor and board member of Rakuten, FC Barcelona’s main global partner, also recognizes the value of an application like Gloria.
"Victoire’s vision for what the world of football can be is infectious - one platform with true access for all,” says Hovaghimian. “After a few short conversations with her during an Argentina World Cup match, I knew I wanted to invest in whatever she builds. I’m so excited about the community that is developing around it, and what it could mean for the sport moving forward."
When accomplished and passionate people all come together under one roof like this, great things usually follow. Cogevina, Ohanian, and Hovaghimian all crossed paths initially out of shared enthusiasm for soccer and later realized their combined expertise and means could make a real impact. From these roots Gloria eventually grew, and that simple love of the game remains at the core of the company.
The Future of Gloria Is Bright
Currently raising their seed round from tech, entrepreneur, and soccer experts, Gloria doesn’t plan to stop their momentum or settle for anything less than excellence.
“We are currently beta testing the product and getting strong positive feedback from the community. Our tech team is working hard to add useful features and incentivize engagement, ” Cogevina explains. “On the business development side of things, we are currently working on a partnership with UN Women to ensure we generate the same opportunities for women as we do for men on the platform.”
While Gloria’s internal team listens to user feedback and implements tweaks, externally they are networking with like-minded industry leaders. When you put all the pieces together, they make for a formidable team eager and ready to help the beautiful game transition into the next era.