WFS Live returns in November, to build football’s roadmap for the future

WFS Live returns in November, to build football’s roadmap for the future 2560 1440 WFS Live

After the success of its inaugural edition, which gathered 158 speakers and over 3,400 professionals, WFS Live returns from November 23-27.

The second iteration will bring the football industry’s most influential community together once again to share experiences and lessons learned during the restart of competitions after the hiatus imposed by coronavirus, while pooling strategies for the crucial times ahead and exploring new paths for the industry to continue moving forward in the so-called ‘new normal’. 

Building football’s roadmap for the future will be the motto of this virtual gathering in which industry leaders will share strategies developed to cushion the multiple effects of the pandemic on their businesses, new opportunities they have encountered along the way, and their future prospects in light of the knowledge and experience gained in recent months. 

WFS Live will also stress the need to take this opportunity to evolve towards a more modern, more digital and more interactive industry, as well as one that is fairer, more inclusive and more supportive. The event will continue contributing to the fight against the effects of coronavirus on vulnerable communities, and 10 per cent of the ticketing revenues will be donated to Common Goal’s Covid-19 Response Fund.

“Resuming competitions and finishing them successfully has been the biggest challenge the sports industry has ever met,” said Jan Alessie, Director of World Football Summit.

“The experience and knowledge gained by the different stakeholders during the process is huge and it should provide invaluable guidance for the industry in the crucial times ahead of us. It’s therefore essential that leaders share their experiences, learnings and vision for the future, and together build a roadmap that will allow the industry to move forward with a firm step in this new and still uncertain normality.”

As in the inaugural edition, the WFS Live platform will allow attendees to engage with speakers by submitting questions during the sessions and to interact with other attendees via group discussions or scheduling one-on-one meetings and video-calls. In addition, new features will be released to improve the user experience and provide new networking opportunities for attendees, partners and exhibitors. 

The quality of the platform was the second most valued aspect according to the WFS Live Satisfaction Survey only after the quality of the speakers. A total of 94.1 per cent of respondents said they had met their goals, while 86.3 per cent of them were sure they would participate in a second edition.

Covid-19 has marked 2020 in every sector linked to sports, but the pandemic has not been the only significant event. The year will also be remembered as one in which sport firmly stood up to racism. The actions taken both individually by athletes of all sports, and collectively by organisations and companies across the industry undoubtedly signal a turning point in the need to eradicate racial discrimination. 

There were also significant statements of intent to bring greater parity between the men’s and women’s games, with the decision taken by the Football Associations of England and Brazil to pay their international female teams the same as their male counterparts, following the steps of Australia, Norway and New Zealand.

WFS Live: Building football’s roadmap for the future

These events are also featured in the comprehensive WFS Live Conference Concept, which pivots on five main themes:  

  • Explore: The ‘new normal’ in football
  • Bridge the gap: Partnerships, investments & more
  • Discover the next step: Sports technology & OTT
  • Inclusivity: This game is for everyone
  • Breaching boundaries: New global possibilities in sport

The WFS Live Programme, which will be released in the coming weeks, will also feature the final of the WFS StartCup by GSIC – the annual startup competition promoted by WFS and the Global Sports Innovation Center (GSIC). The WFS Industry Awards, issued annually by WFS to recognise outstanding works done by professionals of the different fields within the football industry, will also take place. Due to Covid-19, this year the awards will be handed virtually. 

Tickets for WFS Live will go on sale next Monday September 14th with a unique special offer, so keep an eye on your mailbox and the World Football Summit’s social media networks to make sure you don’t miss it.

In the meantime; if you are interested in being part of WFS Live and want more information on how to participate, send us an email to: live@worldfootballsummit.com 

WFS Live proceeds donated to Common Goal and Fundação Fenômenos coronavirus efforts

WFS Live proceeds donated to Common Goal and Fundação Fenômenos coronavirus efforts 1080 1080 WFS Live

Having committed all net profits from WFS Live to social movements Common Goal and Fundação Fenômenos, World Football Summit and Octagon Brasil have contributed to their respective ongoing initiatives fighting coronavirus around the world.

As part of WFS’ continued investment in real-world change through the power of football, proceeds from WFS Liveour inaugural digital event – are now being distributed by both Common Goal and Fundação Fenômenos.

“An important part of what makes football the world’s most popular game is its unmatchable power to tear down barriers, bring people together and drive social development,” said Jan Alessie, director of World Football Summit.

“These are no easy times for the industry, but at WFS we believe that now, more than ever, it’s our duty to continue supporting these efforts and promoting the power that makes football so unique. That’s why we’re delighted to donate the net proceeds of WFS Live to our long-time partners at Common Goal and to Fundação Fenômenos – with whom we look forward to continue working with in the future.”

The fight against COVID-19

Celebrating its third anniversary this month, Common Goal was co-founded by Jürgen Griesbeck and Juan Mata in 2017 as a way of “uniting the global football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time.”

They have done so by bringing on board some of the biggest names in the sport – such as Jürgen Klopp, Megan Rapinoe, and Paulo Dybala – taking the pledge and donating 1% of their salaries to Common Goal causes.

Common Goal have already raised over €300,000 for its COVID-19 Relief Fund, while allocating €260,000 to 27 organisations in 20 countries, with the aim of supporting Football for Good’s emergency response efforts and young people hardest hit by the pandemic.

This has helped community organisations deliver education and medical supplies to deprived areas in 200+ communities across 90 countries, reaching out to more than two million people dealing with a global crisis that has left death, hunger, violence and displacement in its wake.

Similarly, Fundação Fenômenos were born in 2012 with football at it score in the shape of founder Ronaldo Názario – the Brazil legend who redefined the sport on the pitch and is now trying to have a similarly transformative impact off it.

The Sao Paulo-based organisation’s COVID-19 Fund will distribute raised funds from September to December this year, with the express aim of supporting communities across Brazil that includes: the indigenous and black population, those that identify as LGBTQI+, the homeless, refugees, and immigrants.

The start of a new partnership…

It was the first time WFS and Fundação Fenômenos has partnered, but certainly won’t ​be the last, with both organisations firmly committed to using football as the catalyst for bringing about societal change in areas that need it the most.

“We are absolutely satisfied with the WFS partnership,” said Fundação Fenômenos president Otávio Pereira. “The event itself was groundbreaking and successful on all fronts. Furthermore, we were glad to be part of the pool of NGO’s supported.

“We call to action others to promote and foster partnerships between private and third-sectors. This is a brilliant example how joint forces can change the world for the better.”

Alessie added: “Football players have a unique power to make an impact on people’s lives and Fundação Fenômenos is a great example of the remarkable goals that can be achieved when that power is used to giving back to society.

“The work that Fundação Fenômenos is doing with vulnerable communities in Brazil is amazing. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ronaldo and all his team. We’re honoured to be partners and we look forward to continue joining forces in the future.”

… And the latest in a long-term collaboration

As for Common Goal, this is the latest in a long-running relationship that dates back to WFS taking the 1% pledge just weeks after Common Goal’s inception three years ago.

The 1% pledge is just a small part of WFS’ ongoing commitment to the Common Goal cause, and as a platform that brings the football industry leaders together, WFS firmly agrees for the need to promote football as a force for good and a tool for social development.

Griesbeck and Mata have taken to the WFS stage numerous times, bringing awareness to the huge impact football can have on the lives of millions of vulnerable people around the world.

Most recently, Spain midfielder Mata joined Fundação Fenômenos founder – and WFS Live partner – Ronaldo for an important discussion on how football players can contribute more to society at July’s WFS Live event.

Both shared their hands-on knowledge and experience from their respective work with Common Goal and Fundacao Fenômenos, which includes their efforts combating COVID-19.

“Over the last few years, World Football Summit has successfully created a space to gather and discuss the future of football,” said Griesbeck, whose Street Football World organisation was collaborating with WFS some time before Common Goal was born.

“Together we aim to drive the agenda towards how it can meaningfully contribute to the development of a fairer society and a sustainable planet, towards a platform that encourages new voices within the industry.

“We’re convinced that it’s of vital importance and we’re committed to engage in this conversation alongside World Football Summit. We’re proud to have WFS on board as a Common Goal member and look forward to together being part of the solution in the times ahead.”​

“In recent years we’re seeing more and more football players becoming actively involved in social issues, such as the fight against poverty, racism or sexual discrimination. This is of great importance because nobody has more capacity to influence youth around the world more than athletes,” added Alessie.

Common Goal’s work, making footballers and other industry players aware of their power to build a fairer society, has been key in this ongoing and crucial process. At WFS, we’re extremely proud of being members and partners of Common Goal since their inception, and we remain committed to ensuring that football as a tool for social development will be an important part of the industry’s agenda when addressing the future of the game.”

And the finalists for the 2020 WFS StartCup by GSIC are…

And the finalists for the 2020 WFS StartCup by GSIC are… 2048 1021 WFS Live

4D Sight (USA), BBox Sports (Netherlands), Beyond Sports BV (Netherlands), IDOVEN (Spain), Immersiv.io (France), iSPORTiSTiCS (Brazil), Pico-Get Personal (Israel) and Sport Buff (United Kingdom) are the eight finalists of the 2020 WFS StartCup by GSIC, the startup competition that aims to locate the best ‘sportech’ projects and/or startups with innovative solutions that can impact the sports industry in general, and football in particular.

These eight startups were selected after an online pitch that took place on Thursday July 9th during Day 4 of WFS Live powered by Ronaldo, a virtual event that gathered 158 industry leaders and over 3,400 attendees from 120 countries. They will all take the stage again in the next edition of WFS Live for a final pitch after which the jury will decide the winner.

The eight finalists come from seven countries (two of them are from the Netherlands) and three different continents. The majority of them are focused on providing fan engagement solutions for football properties through AI, AR, VR, Machine Learning and other technology tools.

The winning project will receive one year of free membership to the Global Sports Innovation Center powered by Microsoft and a scholarship to the GSIC Institute’s Master in Digital Transformation. All the selected finalists will receive two complimentary passes for the next edition of WFS Live, which will take place in Q4 of 2020.

This is the fifth edition of the WFS StartCup. Thermohuman3D Digital Venue,  YBVR and GameReady, winners of the four previous editions respectively, have since gained great notoriety in the sportech ecosystem. The 2020 WFS StartCup by GSIC registered 90 candidacies from 30 countries. The jury shortlisted 16 pre-finalists that had the chance to pitch during WFS Live powered by Ronaldo.

The jury of the 2020 WFS StartCup by GSIC is composed by relevant industry professionals such as Paul Bragiel, Managing Partner at Bragiel Brothers, Iris Córdoba, General Manager at GSIC, Danny Cortenraede, President & Business Owner at Wannahaves, Edson Crevecoeur, Vice President, Strategy & Data Analytics at 601 Analytics, Andrew Gilligan, Head of Research & Insights at City Football Group, Aaron Gourley, Editor at FC Business Magazine, Charlie Greenwood, Founder and CEO at Sports Loft, Samuel Jackman, Chief Development Officer at VenueNext Europe, Mathieu Lacome, Head of Research & Development at Paris Saint-Germain, Sebastián Lancestrémere, WW DT Partnerships & Sports Industry Managing Director at Microsoft, Sam Li, Head of International at Sina Sports, Thomas Lim, Deputy Chief at Sport Singapore, Massimo Marinelli, CEO at Aser Ventures, Rohn Malhotra, Co-founder at SportsTechX, Unmish Parthasarathi, Founder & Executive Director at Picture Board Partners, Fredda Rodríguez, Head of Digital and Emerging Technologies at CONCACAF, Minerva Santana, Director of Innovation and Global Development at LaLiga and Luis Vicente, Group CEO at Eleven Sports.

WFS Live was the largest football industry event of the year

WFS Live was the largest football industry event of the year 6250 2083 WFS Live

The first ever edition of WFS Live powered by R9 came to an end on Friday July 10th with a unique live conversation with FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Football’s global chief shared his views on the current state of the football industry and his plans to continue growing and globalising the game in the coming years, despite the significant challenges that lie ahead due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The chat between Infantino and O Fenômeno was the icing on the cake of a unique event that featured 37 conferences in three different languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese) with up to 158 top-notch speakers. These international leaders shared their knowledge and experience with the sole objective of finding the best ways to overcome the unprecedented challenges that the global sports industry is facing.

If unity is an essential requirement to face the post-Covid era, and everyone agrees it is, then there’s no doubt that the football industry is in a much better position to overcome the challenges ahead after WFS Live, the largest event the football industry has seen in 2020. Figures prove that WFS’ first online was much more than its Conference Programme. It was a global networking and knowledge-sharing platform that brought together the entirety of the industry like never before.

Our 3,407 attendees from 120 different countries made over 10,000 contacts (4,3 contacts per active user), created 10,700+ discussions and exchanged 22,000+ messages. The conversations were clearly fruitful, as video-calls went on for an average of over 45 minutes and attendees rated each other with an average of 4,8/5. 85 percent of the attendees that were rated scored 5 Starts, the highest possible rating.

WFS Live became one of the main talking points across the global industry during the entire week, generating over 1 million impressions on social media (640,000 on Twitter) and 15,000 engagements.

“I’m very grateful to the more than 3,000 participants from all the continents, the 158 speakers who debated for 5 days very important and relevant topics for the entire industry and to the sponsors who joined us on our dream to connect the football industry virtually. You collaborated directly with the NGOs Common Goal and Fundação Fenômenos,” said Ronaldo in his final closing speech.

“When we started this project our mission was to develop a useful platform to allow the football industry to come together in these difficult times in which we are forced to be apart due to the pandemic. The remarkable figures achieved during the past week prove that we fulfilled our objective and I’m happy and proud to say that today the football industry is more united and therefore in a better position to face whatever challenges may lie ahead. I would like to thank all the attendees for participating and all our partners for supporting us in this new project that we expect to grow and improve in the coming months,” said WFS Director Jan Alessie.

Day 5 highlights: Drogba, Carney, Collina, Infantino, Ronaldo, and more

Day 5 highlights: Drogba, Carney, Collina, Infantino, Ronaldo, and more 1236 566 WFS Live

Day 5 of WFS Live was packed with action and relevant discussions. African leaders such as CAF General Secretary Abdelmounaim Bah or football legend Didier Drogba discussed the best strategies for the game to continue growing in the continent, Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of FIFA’s Referee Committee, addressed how VAR is changing the game for the good, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino shared his plans for the future with Ronaldo Nazário in a unique live conversation. And as a special treat for our Spanish fans, we had Vicente del Bosque, Fernando Hierro, David Villa and Juan Mata sharing their memories on the 2010 World Cup, in which the Spanish National Team conquered the world with their unique “Tiki Taka” style.

Gianni Infantino on hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup every two years
“One idea that came in this period, and even before as well, is that maybe we should organise the Women’s World Cup every two years instead of every four years. For the next Women’s World Cup in 2023, we had a lot of interest around the world. We’ll go to Australia and New Zealand. Then, what happens next? Should we go to South America? Or maybe Europe or North America want to organise it again? Why not South America? Why not Africa? So, we need to see what we can do.”

Ronaldo Nazário on fighting against racism every day
“The fight against racism is not just a fight for black people, it’s everybody’s fight. We have to fight it every day. Nobody is born racist, but somehow people learn to be racist. We have to fight to teach those who learn that when kids. But, it’s everybody’s fight.”

Santiago Solari on the mental challenges faced by players during the Covid-19 lockdown
“During the lockdown, players have had to rely heavily on self-discipline and self-motivation. They have worked for weeks without the control of any staff and without the motivation of the daily competition and also without their teammates. For the first time in their careers, they’ve experienced the harshness and the loneliness of the preparation for an individual sport, which is much more difficult.”

David Villa on why Spain has to quit looking for the new Xavi and the next Iniesta
“It would be a huge mistake to try to find the new Xavi, the new Iniesta, the new Villa or the new Casillas. Spain has great players and great coaches. They are different to the ones that won the World Cup in 2010, but they are perfectly capable of building an excellent team. If we want to succeed in the future, we have to stop comparing the current players with the past players. If we do so, Spanish football has an enormous potential.”

Didier Drogba on the need to educate football players in Africa
“Education is the key. We need to educate the players because, for example, in Ivory Coast some of them don’t know how to read, how to write. Education is vital, it is crucial because you can’t focus just on creating good football players. This is a career that lasts 10, 15 perhaps 20 years, but after that there is a life and the move can be very difficult.”

Karen Carney (Visa) on the importance of long-term partnerships in women’s football
“When I first started playing I don’t think there was any partners, there wasn’t really big sponsors. Nobody really cared if I’m honest. Then, as England started to get to major tournaments, you saw sponsors and partners drop in at key times, maybe a year before the tournaments and then they would drop out. There wasn’t really any consistency. And what I noticed since now is that for instance with Visa’s seven-year partnership, which is incredible, Nike, Barclays… This stops those peaks and troughs of coming in at the key moments and then dropping out. How can the women’s game ever really develop like that? Visa’s seven-year plan shows confidence in the game and it shows believe and that’s massive for other brands as well.”

Pierluigi Collina (FIFA) on how VAR is forcing referees to change their mentality 
“Referees today grew up as referees without VAR, so this generation is in a process of big change. They have to adapt their mentality. To be clear, a referee on the field of play has been educated to defend the decision taken against everybody. Today he has to change this mentality because he has to understand and accept that his decision on the field can be overruled based on something that can be shown on the monitor. It’s a matter of mentality.”

Gianni Infantino: “It’s time to speak about the international calendar, nobody is happy with it”

Gianni Infantino: “It’s time to speak about the international calendar, nobody is happy with it” 1242 570 WFS Live

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is keen to engage in dialogue with clubs and federations over the future of football’s calendar, a calendar that has already been completely shaken up by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is one of the main issues that Infantino addressed as he appeared in the closing session of WFS Live powered by Ronaldo, a Q&A which was hosted by Ronaldo himself.

The Brazilian legend asked the FIFA president about football’s calendar going forward and Infantino pointed out that it has already been shaken up due to the several months of inaction that the pandemic caused. Given that so many found the balance between club and national team matches problematic even before the crisis, now is the time for dialogue.

As Gianni Infantino said: “When you speak about it, you find out that nobody is really happy with the current international match calendar. You have national team games in September, October and November, then in March and then in June. You have players who have to travel halfway around the world back and forth for these games. I think it is time to speak about it.”

“It’s important to listen, to get input, to get opinions, to find the right balance,” he continued. “It’s important for us that we find the right balance between clubs and national teams. And not only a few clubs in Europe and a few national teams in Europe and Brazil and Argentina, but much wider than that. All over the world. We need to make sure that when we rethink our competitions at FIFA level, and also at national level, that we take the experiences we’ve had now with this crisis on board and we see how we can make football more impactful.”

“Nobody is really happy with the current international match calendar. You have players who have to travel halfway around the world back and forth for these games. I think it is time to speak about it.” – Gianni Infantino, FIFA President

The new-look FIFA Club World Cup will have a place in the new calendar, even if FIFA already agreed to move it from the summer 2021 slot. Ronaldo asked why not all in the football industry have been on board with the plans to revamp and expand this Club World Cup, and Infantino responded as so: “I don’t know why they’re afraid. Maybe because it would become the best club competition in the world very soon. I think it’s an example of something I’ve said before. When we decided to do the new Club World Cup, we decided at the same time to stop with the Confederations Cup and the current Club World Cup. I think we are the only sports body in the world that doesn’t just add, but that replaces and makes something that is more relevant and more interesting.

Delving into the impacts of COVID-19 on the world of football, Infantino told Ronaldo about how FIFA is trying to help organisations around the world and how a relief fund of 1.5 billion dollars has been created. Even still, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

One of the repeated themes of the WFS Live week, which was held from July 6th to July 10th, was the issue of women’s football and how the impact of the coronavirus crisis could be even harsher for the women’s game. FIFA are aware of this, as Infantino explained.

Women’s football is a top priority for FIFA and we have created a specific task force and working group to deal with questions about women’s football in this particular crisis,” he revealed. “We have committed 1 billion dollars from the next four years to be invested by FIFA in women’s football and, in spite of the crisis, we’ll continue with this investment of course. As part of our relief plan, we’ve invested in women’s football as well. So, I think we should not use coronavirus to put women’s football aside. On the contrary, we have to help women’s football even more because it has a bright future.”

“Maybe we should organise the Women’s World Cup every two years instead of every four years”, Ganni Infantino – FIFA President

Moving on to that future, Infantino suggested that the FIFA Women’s World Cup could become a biennial event. He said: “One idea that came in this period, and even before as well, is that maybe we should organise the Women’s World Cup every two years instead of every four years. For the next Women’s World Cup in 2023, we had a lot of interest around the world. We’ll go to Australia and New Zealand. Then, what happens next? Should we go to South America? Or maybe Europe or North America want to organise it again? Why not South America? Why not Africa? So, we need to see what we can do.”

The conversation between Ronaldo and Infantino concluded with some thoughts about football and footballers’ role in social movements, such as Black Lives Matter. Infantino explained that he is fully behind players voicing opinions on such matters, saying: “Players are people. So, for me, it’s normal and natural that they express their views. I’m definitely a defender of freedom of expression, always with respect and never with disrespect or with violence. But, whenever a football player is expressing their views or opinions in a respectful way or the right way then obviously this has to be welcomed because it has an impact in society and we want football to have a positive impact in society.”

Ronaldo completely agreed with that sentiment and called for education to play a role. As the Brazilian concluded: “The fight against racism is not just a fight for black people, it’s everybody’s fight. We have to fight it every day. Nobody is born racist, but somehow people learn to be racist. We have to fight to teach those who learn that when kids. But, it’s everybody’s fight.”

A selection of Gianni Infantino’s quotes :

On altering transfer market rules to allow players to finish 2019/20 with their current clubs:
“With different laws in different countries and with different interests in different countries, and also with different clubs, we had to find some reasonable and flexible rules and we amended our regulations on a temporary basis for this period for the transfers in order to, mainly, protect the integrity of the competitions. It’s important that if a player starts a competition with a club that they finish the competition with that club as well, or at least that we protect the integrity in the sense that this player cannot go on June 30th to play for another club in the same competition and play the last few matches there. Because this, of course, would not be fair from a sporting point of view.

On the busy schedule facing world football over the coming years:
“The Champions League will be finished at the end of August and then we’ll immediately have national team games and then the new season starts and then it ends with the Euros and the Copa America. Then we’re already into 2021/22 and then that’ll be the year of the World Cup. So, it’ll be a very right schedule for the next couple of years. We have to realise that the core of football is the players. I think some people in some management positions have forgotten that, certainly in the past and maybe some as well in the present. We have to realise that, at FIFA, we are here to make sure that the stage is set for the main actors, which are the players, to shine. We need to be very careful and very mindful about this, about the health of the players. For this reason, for example, I’m happy that the IFAB agreed with the proposal of FIFA for there to be five substitutions for this period.”

On holding matches behind closed doors:
“To watch these games without spectators is sad. It’s sad. Of course, it’s better than nothing, but… I was saying before that the players are the heart of the game, but the fans are the soul of the game. I think that without fans it’s like without players. It’s not really football. In this moment, it’s not possible because of health reasons. But, we need to work to have the fans back in the stadiums as soon as it’s possible from a health point of view.”

On FIFA’s role in education:
“There are many many topics that we can speak to children about through football and we can help in the education of children. So, FIFA is investing in the Football For Schools Programme 100 million dollars to give 700 million children around the world the possibility not only to play football, but mainly to have, through football, the possibility to learn a few skills which are important for their lives.”

This is a time for the sports industry to be bold, experts urge

This is a time for the sports industry to be bold, experts urge 1240 580 WFS Live

The fact that the world has completed changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic can open up opportunities for the sports industry in terms of implementing changes that directors and commissioners wouldn’t dare consider in normal circumstances. While there may previously have been a fear of the negative feedback that could have come with shaking up certain areas, industry experts believe that this concern no longer exists given that the whole world has been shaken up anyway.

This was the view of the experts who took part in the ‘Sports Post-Covid: What Can Football Learn From Its Counterparts In Times Of Crisis?’ panel during WFS Live powered by Ronaldo. The guests for this panel were Al Guido, President of San Francisco 49ers and chairman of Elevate Sports Ventures, Alejandro Agag, CEO of Extreme E, Arnon de Mello, senior Vice President and managing director at NBA Latin America, and Joe de Sena, CEO and founder of The Spartan Race.

Michael Broughton, an advisor at Acceleration Equity, was the moderator of the panel and he got the conversation rolling. “Innovation needs a catalyst and the catalyst may have come in the most unexpected way,” Broughton said. “Fans may be a little more amenable to seeing things differ to the way they used to be,” he added, referring to the current situation.

Guido echoed that point with a fitting metaphor. He said: “With the NFL and the NBA, you might consider them as sort of ocean tankers. They’re hard to turn around because there is so much maturity in some of these businesses and their sport. Maybe their fans might have had a negative reaction if you’d tried to change something too much, but even that during this period is evolving. Even what players might be used to or what they might have signed up for. Now, you might see a coach who was saying ‘I’d never mic myself up’, but now they might put a mic on to bring fans closer. Because we all understand that we are in the most challenging time in our world.”

Agag followed on. “You have to take this time of the pandemic as an opportunity and you can do many things that, before, people were not ready to do,” he said, going on to give the example of virtual hospitality that is being implemented in Extreme E, the series of off-road races in remote parts of the world that wasn’t planning to have in-attendance fans in any case. As Agag explained: “It’s all about giving premium experiences to the corporate guests or to the fans at home, but they need to feel they’re different and have special access. Maybe one-on-one communication with the drivers, special cameras, special food, special merchandising or even a driving experience in their city with their favourite brands.”

In the NBA, they’re certainly planning to try out new technology and new methods, as De Mello told the WFS Live audience. He said, referring to the resumption of the 2019/20 NBA season, that: “We’re going to be testing a lot of new features. We’re going to have 30 cameras with different angles that nobody has ever seen.

While many of the innovations might be virtual, De Sena pointed out that in-person events have to be planned for too. Already some Spartan Race events have been held and De Sena reported back on the success of these, explaining that most people were open to coming along and running those races in a slightly different way to normal, with sanitary protocols in place. As De Sena said: “About 30% of the people are afraid and aren’t going to come to a stadium or an event. But, 70% of the people embraced it and followed the new protocols. I didn’t know if our consumers were going to play along. With the ones that showed up to the event, were they going to break all of the rules? By and large, everybody followed exactly the way they were supposed to.”

This panel took place during the fourth day of WFS Live, which is running from Monday July 6th to Friday July 10th. It is still possible to buy a ticket for the final day here, with all net proceeds to be donated to Fundação Fenômenos and the Common Goal Covid-19 Response Fund.

A selection of quotes from ‘Sports Post-COVID: What Can Football Learn From Its Counterparts In Times Of Crisis?’

Al Guido, on thinking outside the box to discover new revenue streams:
“I would say it’s incumbent upon all of us to find new ways to get revenue to come in the books. Things that we might have thought were off the books and couldn’t do and wouldn’t touch? We need to start thinking about the ability to do that. Whether that’s new sponsorship assets that are inside of television broadcasts. Whether that’s new distribution platforms. Whether that’s escape rooms. Whether that’s membership, as I saw what happened with BarçaTV and their membership platform with their fanbase. We’re all going to have to think through what the future of our revenue streams looks like.”

Alejandro Agag, on Fernando Alonso’s return to Formula 1:
“I think it’s great for Formula 1 to get Fernando Alonso back. I think he’s a great champion and he left probably too early. Probably the timing of some of his decisions or choices of teams were not the ideal ones. So, that probably kept him from winning a couple more championships, which I think he would have. I was texting him on WhatsApp and he replied with a funny phrase which will resonate with the NBA. He said ‘Yes, one last dance’.”

Arnon de Mello, senior vice president and managing director at NBA Latin America, on the opportunities for the NBA that the shaken-up time slots present:
“One of our biggest challenges was broadcasting games live in Europe and even parts of Asia or Africa. Now, we’ll have more time slots. Game will start to be played in the US in early afternoon, so we will be able to be on prime time in Europe or Africa, where we usually only came in very late at night or in the early hours of the morning.”

Joe De Sena, on making sure we don’t overlook the value of face-to-face interaction:
“I can’t tell you how many hundred people came around a corner [at a recent race], saw me and just started crying. That they got a chance to live again. I think all of the virtual things and initiatives we’re talking about are great and a requirement, but I think humans need interaction, even if it’s at six feet away. I saw it first hand. Literally, people were tearing up and crying. They’d been locked in their homes for so long and they just felt alive again.”

Day 3 highlights: Ronaldo, Mata, Popal, Verón and more

Day 3 highlights: Ronaldo, Mata, Popal, Verón and more 1242 565 WFS Live

Day 3 of WFS Live powered by R9 saw former and current football legends take the virtual stage to address both on the field and both the field topics. Rebecca Smith and Khalida Popal discussed the best way for women’s football to tackle Covid-19 and continue its growth path during a panel sponsored by Visa, Juan Sebastián Verón explained how a good education boosted him from the youth teams of Estudiantes to the Chairman’s office in a panel sponsored by Johan Cruyff Institute, whilst Ronaldo and Juan Mata shared their experiences as social activists in a panel sponsored by Santander.

Ronaldo Nazário on how Covid-19 will impact football for good organisations:
“Covid-19 is going to make a big impact on foundations and NGOs because the companies that fund these organisations have suffered a big blow and we know that whenever there is a crisis the first thing they cut is donations. What we have to do as foundations is to find solutions, find ways of proposing new projects. With Fundação Fenômenos we are developing channels and platforms to try to identify where people are suffering most in Brasil and do our best to provide assistance. It’s not what we normally do, but it is what is required. There are a lot of communities in Brasil that have no assistance and we have to provide them with an opportunity to overcome this crisis with dignity.”

Juan Mata on players becoming increasingly involved in social causes
“There are a number of reasons that explain why athletes’ voices are becoming more influential. Social media has become a very important tool for professional footballers and athletes in general, and, as we are seeing with all the young players joining Common Goal lately, players are realising that when you are a footballer you have a very powerful platform. When you state your views, people listen, and a lot of players are starting to use that power to speak up for social causes. I think this is already a trend, and I think that it is going to grow even more in the coming years. More players will realise the power they have to reach people, because in that sense nothing matches the power of sports and football.”

Juan Sebastián Verón (Club Estudiantes) on the need for clubs to ensure their player’s education
“At Estudiantes we use football as a vehicle to educate kids. We receive kids from all types of places, some of them with important needs, and it’s important that we ensure that when they leave they have finished secondary school, which is the minimum needed to get a job. I think that’s what the club has to do, and I think the kids have the right to receive that education. They’re going to invest around 10 years chasing a dream that may never come true. If that happens, I want them to know that the club gave them the chance to finish school and go back home with something. If they get to be players, that will be excellent, but if they don’t make it we want them to have another opportunity in life.”

Tatjana Haenni (Swiss Football Federation) on the need for football organisations to talk less and do more
“If you talk to male players, they are usually super supportive and helpful. If you talk to people in society, they are open to women sports. If you talk to people in the economy they see the benefits as well. It’s developing everywhere, but where we still struggle is in places in which changes could be made immediate and that’s sports organisations. These organisations quite often in my opinion do a bit more talking than actually doing. They could really reinforce the case of women’s sports much quicker and put the right structures in place.”

Toni Ordinas (Lillestrøm Sportsklubb), on how Bepro is revolutionising data analysis in football
“During more than 20 years I had the feeling that I just watched the matches, didn’t analyze the matches. With Bepro this has changed. For the first time I have the chance to see what happens on the pitch, what players do and how they interact. In youth football it’s important that we not just look at the physical parameters but also the fundamentals, this is the most important thing when you are developing a player.”

Mic Conetta (Arsenal FC) on using data to build fan engagement
“Clubs have to balance the amount of information that is available to them and really focus on what part of that information is going to drive and build out that fan experience and nurture and develop the relationship with the fans, because you can go down a lot of rabbit holes chasing a lot of data that won’t deliver much value back to either the club or the relationship with the fans.”

Iván Codina (LaLiga), on how LaLiga kept its fans engaged during the Covid-19 lockdown  
“At the beginning our main focus was definitely to show our commitment with the fight against Covid-19, specially with the dramatic situation that we had in Spain. That was our main focus. After that we were also able to provide content around the protocols for clubs to resume training and the restart of competitions, and also on all the initiatives that our clubs carried out around the restart of LaLiga.”

Ale Xavier (Desimpedidos) on how Covid-19 is forcing media companies to reinvent themselves 
“In the pandemic, more than ever, we need to reinvent ourselves, produce different content related to sports and leverage tools that already existed but we didn’t know how to use. We also need to make the best use of all available platforms.”

Dani Alves (Brasil National Team) on the need to come together to make real impact
“Individual voices don’t make much of an impact. They need to be together and in different parts of the world. All lives matter. We are in 2020 debating about the same things and haven’t evolved yet. We have to position ourselves as humans and not as football players or a sports athlete in general.”

Experts call for women’s football to receive more investment during the Covid-19 crisis

Experts call for women’s football to receive more investment during the Covid-19 crisis 1237 588 WFS Live

While the coronavirus crisis has impacted sport at all levels, the effects on women’s football have been especially severe and this is why industry experts have called for there to be even more investment in the women’s game than in the men’s game at this time. Given the weaker fundamental structures of women’s football, equal investment wouldn’t even be enough. Instead, the argument is that there’s a need for the authorities to put greater resources into women’s sport.

This was one of the main talking points during the ‘Women’s Sport: The Necessary Steps For A Progressive Future’ panel during WFS Live powered by Ronaldo, which was moderated by Alexandra Gómez Bruinewoud, senior legal counsel at FIFPro. It had Tatjana Haenni, director of women’s football at the Swiss Football Association, Bex Smith, global director of the women’s game at COPA90, Khalida Popal, founder and director of the Girl Power Organisation, and Jorge Garbajosa, president of the Spanish Basketball Federation, as guests.

As Gómez Bruinewoud explained: “At FIFPro, we have been studying women’s football in general, but also we’ve put a little bit more interest on the effects of COVID-19 on women’s football. Of course, as everyone who is interested in football in general and in women’s football in particular, we were really really worried about what would happen. We did some research and what we’re encouraging and suggesting is that actually, in this moment, it’s not enough to say ‘ok, we’ll invest the same in women’s football’, which is not even the case by far anywhere. It should be even more! They need extra support because the structures are weak and the basis is still not there.”

In certain countries, solid structures are in place and Smith raised the positive example of the DFB, the German federation. She said: “I think the structures need to be in the right place. If you have the right structures then a great example of that is what the DFB did with the solidarity fund that the top four clubs then distributed and it actually went to women’s football because that was the equitable thing to do.”

Such a positive example is rare, though, and the panelists agreed with the need for financial backing of women’s sport at this time. “To really convince the last people who are still not seeing the opportunity and the potential, we need some money coming into women’s football and you can actually make a business case, but you need a decent plan,” said Haenni.

It’s not only about financially supporting women’s sport during the times of COVID-19. It’s about doing so at all times. Encouragingly, Garbajosa revealed that the Spanish Basketball Federation were thinking about this issue even before the pandemic and they realised that there was a need to not just fund women’s basketball equally, but to actually allocate a little more to the women’s game.

We are investing a little bit more in women’s basketball than in men’s basketball,” Garbajosa told the WFS Live audience. “In terms of the commitment of the men’s basketball players with the women, here in Spain in our federation it is 100 percent. When they get a bonus, the bonuses for the men and the women are completely equal. The money that they get for every day that they practice or play games is completely equal also. It’s a matter of being fair because the effort they show on the court every day is the same so they have to get the same from our federation.”

Ultimately, having more women in leading roles will help to bring about the positive changes that are needed and this was another takeaway that the panelists agreed upon. “I think it’s very important to create more job opportunities and educational opportunities for women to gain the skills to be more involved in developing the women’s game, as we need more women,” Popal concluded.

This panel took place during the third day of WFS Live, which is running from Monday July 6th to Friday July 10th. It is still possible to buy a ticket here, with all net proceeds to be donated to Fundação Fenômenos and the Common Goal COVID-19 Response Fund.

Quotes from the ‘Women’s Sport: The Necessary Steps For A Progressive Future’ panel

Tatjana Haenni, on the business case for women’s football:
“I think women’s football is a business case. I think it’s the biggest growth opportunity in terms of participation, sponsorships, partnerships, media partnerships. If you don’t have a proper business plan and investment behind then you just don’t get the results as quickly as you can. If I look at the FIFA Women’s World Cup as an example. It still doesn’t have its own sponsorship packages. It’s not unbundled as far as I know. That might have reasons for it because maybe the contracts are so long that they can’t unbundle it. But, I haven’t really seen a plan. Whereas, at the UEFA level, you see that there are specific sponsors for the Women’s Euros. So, there is the momentum for a commercial business case for women’s football.”

Bex Smith, on the media’s role in setting and defining value:
“Actually, media has an even bigger role to play than just giving visibility. I think that just in the way how media divides the time that women get and men get, that puts a value on it. [It suggests] that men are actually worth more and valued more and that people should then invest more in the men’s side of the game.”

Khalida Popal, on unhelpful comparisons between women’s and men’s football:
“Media has a huge impact on women’s football. It helps women’s football a lot, but we have to also understand that the way some media communicate is wrong. We have to stop comparing women’s football and men’s football. Women’s football is a beautiful product. We have to communicate it and we have to sell the story differently. Most of the media channels are making the mistake of comparing women’s football. That’s why we’re getting hurt in terms of sponsorship deals, in so many ways and also getting fans.”

Jorge Garbajosa, on investing in women’s sport for the right reasons:
“Sometimes, from the men’s point of view, the investment in women’s sport is like a kind of charity. No, it’s not a charity. It’s a strategic pillar of the development, at least in Spain, of our sport. Here, there’s no difference between men or women. Our goal is to develop our sport and one of the main pillars is women’s basketball as we try to reach our goals.”

Alexandra Gómez Bruinewoud, on how some women footballers are more political in the media:
“We’re seeing in women’s football lots of very highly educated women that have a lot to say and probably that’s also connected to how they’re expressing themselves in the media, how they put through strong messages, how they’re a little bit more political if you want to describe it in a word maybe. I think it was, I don’t know if surprising, but something to highlight and pay attention to if we looked at the awards of The Best of FIFA, where Messi won The Best for the male players and Megan Rapinoe for the women players. Then, you looked at their speeches. Without needing to compare them, you see how different they were. Rapinoe was really giving a political stand, whereas Messi was not and was giving more of a personal speech.”

Day 2 Highlights: Asian football, investments, gaming, data and more!

Day 2 Highlights: Asian football, investments, gaming, data and more! 1239 567 WFS Live

Day 2 of WFS Live powered by R9 saw international leading experts engage in fruitful discussions around a wide variety of topics spanning from Asia’s journey te become a global football powerhouse to how Covid-19 will impact investment flows and reshape sponsoring strategies, the need for all sports to have a gaming strategy or the increasingly crucial role of data in all areas of the industry. Here are some of the main highlights:

Assia Grazioli-Venier (Muse Capital and Juventus), on clubs realising they truly are lifestyle brands:
“I think teams need to realise that they truly are a lifestyle brand. Ten years ago, or longer than that, if you said that teams were selling merchandise and selling mugs and pins then you would have said that was crazy. Now, it’s full speed ahead. It’s a strong source of revenue. So, there are still a lot of new opportunities that we can explore.”

George Pyne (Bruin Capital) on why sports will continue to be a great investment:
“Over the long run, sports is going to be a great investment. Long term, there’s nothing like sports. Sports represent who you are and what you stand for and your values. So, there’s nothing like it. Sports brings people together during difficult times for positive outcomes. So, that’s an incredible outcome in a world that is going to be more fragmented from a media standpoint. Sports is one of the few things that you can invest behind that gets you big and passionate audiences.”


Eelco van der Noll (AB InBev), on sponsors demanding more access to content:
“The whole media rights is going to be reset, not only because of new players coming on the scene, like streaming platforms or social media platforms, but also because sponsors like us are demaning more access to content that historically has been reserved or protected by broadcasters. When we work with the likes of LaLiga or the Premier League, as sponsors we expect more access to content. I think that was already in process, but it is being accelerated by this pandemic.”

Ralf Reichert (ESL Gaming), on why every sport needs a gaming strategy:
“All sports need a gaming strategy. It needs to be very varied from the center of what they’re doing. It could be archery, it could be golf, it could be football, but every sport needs a game. Everyone who went to this (the Covid-19 lockdown) prepared had a good outcome. Most of the racing stuff went to online competitions pretty fast… Gaming was the big winner of this and eSports is kind of the logical follower.”

Ashraf Adam (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium) on the inefficient nature of stadiums:
“Stadiums in nature are inefficient because they cost a lot of money to build maintain and operate. We need to offer activities around them and we’re looking at renewables. What was seen as radical before is now possible.”

Esteban Granero (Olocip), on the crucial role of data in football:
“I think data is part of the daily life of football clubs. I also think that we still have a long path ahead, specially in terms of education. I think that, from a conceptual perspective, it’s important that clubs have professionals capable of understanding the potential of data. Not only to know what sort of data is available, but also how to process it in order for the team to benefit the most.”

Monica Esperidião (Women Experience Sports) on the need to think of women’s football as a business:
“We have to think about women’s football as a business. And we need more people with an interest in women’s football in organizations, clubs, everywhere.”

Mauro Silva (Paulista Football Federation) on the need to promote clubs in foreign markets: 
“As we do not sell our international TV rights, it is difficult to promote our clubs in the entire world. We are stuck, without visibility. This process took place in Spain, it transformed all Spanish football and can also transform Brazilian football.”