Culture of Soccer Week 5 (The World Cup: Sport, Politics, and Business) Comment

Each week we are to respond to another student’s post. Harmonk9 was suprised to see how the game was being commericalized by sponsors politicized by world leaders.

Here was my response to the post:

“The whims of big business” are unsettling, but they make the beautiful game go around these days. Huge infusions of cash, massive marketing campaigns and increasing globalization have transformed a leisurely game into a worldwide event for both club and country.

Your post mentioned Havelange and the Dassler brothers. The book Sneaker Wars is an excellent account of how the brothers, Adi in particular, expanded their shoe business from a regional business to a company of worldwide sporting impact. Seizing on opportunities, they made athletes their spokesman and in essence instituted Joao Havelange as FIFA President, which benefited both the Brazilian and the German shoe company.

At the club level, most teams are moving towards branding sometimes to the exclusion of results. I follow Manchester United and the club continues to increase their revenue streams through ancillary products—wine, sportswear, souvenirs to name a few—which present the brand of Manchester United. Not Manchester United Football Club as the redesign of their crest several years ago exemplified, removing the words Football and Club. Currently the club has been successful on and off the field but I worry that if the trophy procession dries up will they do what’s necessary to improve results rather than the bottom line.

The more you learn about the game, the more you will find “that football, politics, and business are disturbingly intertwined.”

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