Influencers and more: Athletes or
all-around content creators?

In the better half of the last decade, we have seen the curvature of mass media dictating what it means to be an athlete in today’s world. Footballers are no longer just athletes – they are brand ambassadors who represent a lot more than their club and country. This development peaked in 2019 when Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus nearly doubled the Italian club’s following. This meant the Portuguese superstar earns more from media deals than his actual footballing contract. Will this trend further boom in the coming decade or is there a breaking-point to the deity-status of these athletes? And what does this mean for the business dynamics of the industry?

Dawn of technology: How can football unlock the opportunities of AR, VR and 5G?

Sport today has become more than just the athletes on the field of play and the fans in the stands. An era of unprecedented technological innovation arrived at the dawn of the century, which has now matured to the point where its applicability to sports is a reality – and beyond. Whether it is 5G or VAR, tech-based solutions and developments present new business opportunities for the football industry, while simultaneously offering fans innovative ways to engage better with their favourite clubs and players. Will Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and 5G-enabled wearables change the way fans follow football and the sport itself in the coming years?

A change of approach: fans taking control of content

Every fan has an opinion, and while these were previously discussed in bars, today they are now debated across the Internet. Fan-centric mass media like Copa90 is a reality, where the local football fan has taken the medium of social channels available to him and brought his voice for the world to see. Sites like Fantasy Premier League allow fans to continue the conversation anywhere, while setting up channels to offer ‘expert advice’ online in order to understand their athlete’s performances better – and monetize them. This presents the traditional sports media with an important dilemma: is this new manner of fan engagement one they can control? Or is this the start of fans taking control over post-match sports content?

Raising the stakes: Understanding the future sports betting landscape

When it comes to global sports: whatever happens in Vegas, no longer stays in Vegas. As a result of the total globalisation of sports we have witnessed, and the ever-intensifying reaches of the Internet, sports betting has grown exponentially during the last 15 years and will continue to do so reaching an estimated market value of over $155 billion by 2024. And yet as the US market liberalises, Europe could be heading in the opposite direction and new technologies like cryptocurrencies could change the picture entirely. We open the conversation to identify the most intriguing trends which could help you get ahead of the curve in the coming decade.

Straight from the mind: The importance of mental health

In recent times, a growing number of athletes, sports organizations, and top programmes have publicly addressed a topic that affects us all: mental health. This is more than a hot-button societal issue and has the opportunity to become a key long-term competitive advantage for the teams and countries that effectively engage, support, and work with their athletes. We have seen star athletes offer a glimpse into lives affected by symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. The time has come to remove the final slither of negative stigma on the topic and discuss it openly for the collective benefit of our ever-growing sports industry.

From the Far East to the Far West: the growth of US soccer and Chinese football

The global reach of football, or soccer, is unequalled among sports. Whether it is in terms of value to media, sponsors, brands or even local communities, there is no rival to football. And yet the United States of America and China — the world’s two largest economies – for a long time, have not been among them. These markets were both largely untapped and ripe for growth. Now, with new football franchises taking off, including David Beckham’s efforts with Inter Miami FC or City Football Group’s deal with Sichuan Jiuniu FC, are we finally ready to see the two sleeping giants join the world’s most popular sport at the grand stage?

Investment in the future of Fan Engagement: European clubs’ interest in eSports

In recent years, many high-profile European football teams have invested in building up their own eSports squads. Competitive gaming has become hugely popular in the past decade with gamers competing for millions of dollars, on first-person shooters like Counter Strike, battle arena titles like League of Legends, and the ever-popular EA Sports’ FIFA franchise. World’s top sports properties are now looking to hop on the gravy train by understanding the needs of Generation Z while transforming themselves so they can attract and engage fans for years to come. While active football and sedentary gaming may seem like an unlikely duo, the expectation is that more clubs will turn to eSports – largely to capture millennial interest. Is this the future of fan engagement?

Raising Champions: What the rest of the world learn from the USA’s approach to Women’s Football

The year of 2019 belonged to one team in women’s football: United States of America. The Megan Rapinoe-led revolution shook the world into noticing the quality of the women’s game and rightly so. The Women’s World Cup pulled together unheard-of numbers and the shape of the sport has been changed forever. This comes to no one’s surprise as USA has more registered young female players than all other countries combined – over 3 million girls are registered with U.S. Soccer. Whether it’s sponsors, brands or even new upcoming social media content-based channels, everyone wants to know one thing: what does USA do for women’s football development that other countries should follow?

Winter break and the Premier League: Who comes out on top?

The Premier League, together with the Football Association have long considered ways to ease fixture congestion around Boxing Day and Christmas holidays. The top leagues across Europe, including La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A, always take midseason breaks which have boosted their players’ ability to continue playing the second half of the season with lesser injuries and higher intensity. Unlike the other leagues which have a complete shutdown in December, the Premier League, proposed a staggered match schedule spread across the winter vacations when all families are glued to their favourite team’s matches. With so much at stake, what are the pros and cons of the absence of an English winter break?

Here and now: Women’s football has joined the big leagues

As a new decade beckons, Women’s football has taken centre stage. With an estimated 1.12 billion reach, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup obliterated the previous social stigma attached to women playing football, especially after the US women’s national team overshadowing their male counter-parts with their thrilling play and global appeal. It is no longer a faction of football that is the ‘next’ big thing, but it is in-fact the big thing in football right now. After the introduction of Manchester United’s women squad, the likes of Real Madrid are set to follow. The increasing investment that is taking place means there is an onset need of further development of new competitions like the Women’s Club World Cup – for starters.

Football and beyond: The case for doing more for society

The popularity of football is so vast that even though the majority of fans are relegated to either playing in local amateur leagues or living out their dreams vicariously from the stands of their favourite professional teams – this remains every bit as engaging for them as playing for their elite super-clubs. However, with increasing issues at stadiums like targeted assaults and exclusion based on race, it has become important for the footballing community to come out and address these together. Equality and inclusion organizations like Kick It Out and the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign are looking to level the playing field for minority groups in football and beyond. But is there more to be done off the pitch?

VISION 2030: What will football be like in 10 years?

“In 20 years, a robot will sit in front of you.” Arsene Wenger’s wise words are never far off the mark. The Professor of the modern game spoke about the changes our beautiful game will go through in the coming decade and it has us wondering what else may just happen. While technological developments in football seem increasingly for the benefit of the worldwide TV audience rather than the match-going fan, by 2028, the ability to squeeze HD camera technology into tiny spaces could well have caught up with broadcasters’ tireless desire to get a closer look at the action. Is that what the future holds for football in 2030?

Partner Up: How are Football Sponsorships Moving with the Times?

The market for football sponsorship continues to grow and globalise, but the demands of brand partners are changing and the multi-year bundle of off-the-shelf rights is starting to look historic. Under this backdrop there are many examples of innovation across the industry, especially when it comes to targeting new audiences via digital media. From short-term tactical partnerships that support a brand’s Christmas sales goals to campaigns built around data and unique activation ideas, creativity and flexibility have never been more important. So what does the future hold for marketing in football and how should the industry adapt? How can brands choose the right partner and how can properties utilise their inventory of digital assets to increase their revenue?

Change in Champions: What is UEFA’s new direction for club football’s greatest prize?

Football’s purists have long argued against too many changes in a happily functioning wheel that is the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top international club competition. From once being a tournament that only allowed reigning champions from domestic leagues to participate, only teams from five leagues have made it to the knockout stage this season. This trend clearly shows the increasing imbalance between Europe’s top five leagues and the rest. And yet, some of the wealthiest clubs claim an even bigger part of the pie while discussing a potential “Super League” of their own. Will Europe’s football stakeholders come to a balanced agreement? What do clubs, leagues, broadcasters, sponsors and fans have to say about the future of elite football competitions in the old continent?

A new Club World Cup: Can China 2021 lay down a marker for years to come?

In October 2019, the newly developed FIFA Council appointed China as host of the first edition of the new FIFA Club World Cup in 2021. To be held in the city of Shanghai and eight other Chinese cities, this move represents the much-anticipated change of FIFA’s direction and focus on Asian football and promotion of a more desirable version of the Club World Cup. The innovative format will see 24 clubs from the six continental confederations, and bring the football fans a new tournament to enjoy on an annual basis. The question though remains; will it be the success it is being touted to be?

Riding the Content Wave: European Clubs’ following La Liga approach to digital content and OTT platforms

With a global recorded reach of over 100 million, LaLiga has quickly become a reference for European clubs seeking to increase its worldwide reach. This competition for attention brings along the need for continued creativity and personalised “behind the scenes” content, seen recently on Liverpool’s new YouTube subscription channel and Benfica Play, their own OTT platform. As other major European teams start to catch up with the Spanish league, like Juventus and Man City’s Netflix shows series, making fans feel closer than ever to their favourite players, and even the business managers of the club, what is the crucial next step to maintain this growth in digital fan engagement?

INTREPID WATERS AHEAD: GROWING NEED OF DIVERSE REVENUE STREAMS IN AN UNCERTAIN BROADCASTING FUTURE

The continued revenue growth in the global football market is fast reaching record levels. According to the latest Deloitte Money League report, FC Barcelona became the first club ever to surpass the €800m revenue barrier. Having taken greater control of their merchandising and licensing operations, as well as digitally dynamic pitch-side advertising, clubs like Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have also managed to consistently increase their revenues. As the demands of sponsors seek to demonstrate real value in the evolving digital environment, the challenges for clubs to respond and sustain their revenue growth are unprecedented. Given the uncertain future growth in revenue from media rights, what are the new business models and revenue streams that will fuel the football club economy in the next decade.

2020 Mega Events: A year for sport to learn from the IOC, UEFA and CONMEBOL

The start of a new decade in sport could not be bigger than 2020: The Olympic Games in Tokyo are set to be joined by the biggest UEFA EURO ever played and another edition of CONMEBOL’s Copa America, all in the space of 12 months. Innovative technologies like 5G and unpredictable sporting results will take centre stage, as the fans enjoy a feast of sport the year round. In September, it will be time for us to take a look back and analyse the lessons learned by the organisers of these mega events, as well as the major points of discussion wherein the industry can improve and grow for the better.

Football for all: No tolerance for racism in the world’s most followed sport

As old as the inception of the game, the acts of racism and gender biases at grounds were far worse in the past. Sadly, the recent events have shown it to spike again, leading to the collective efforts of bodies like FIFA and UEFA to kick it out of football, with severe enough deterrents. The “No to Racism” message from UEFA and “Kick it Out” campaign from FIFA have aimed to increase public awareness of intolerance and discrimination in football, as well as develop ideas and strategies on how to fight them. However, is it high time to consider even stricter measures like closed-off games, before we witness players walking off the pitch sometime in the future?

Rotating transfer doors and building profits: A renewed blueprint for success?

Portugal’s FC Benfica has made the very best of their develop-to-sell strategy, they seem to have found a way to beat the biggest drawback of selling the best players. By bringing in record profits and finding success on the pitch, FC Benfica and clubs like Ajax and Olympique Lyonnais have changed the meaning of a ‘successful transfer window’. Despite losing players of the talent of Joao Felix and Matthijs de Ligt to bigger clubs and richer leagues, these European clubs have prospered domestically. Is this a new way of building sustainable clubs while moving beyond the usual revenue streams of ticketing, sponsorship and media rights?

FULL PROGRAM COMING SOON

“I think WFS is a unique event”

Nasser Al Khater – Assistant Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar 2022