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06 Nov 2018

“Future of Global Sport” project catches attention at IF Forum

©SportAccord/Robert Hradil

At the 2018 IF Forum, currently taking place in Lausanne, ASOIF today presented key findings from its ongoing project “The Future of Global Sport”. The project looks at the speed of change impacting sport from political, social, technological and economic influences and how IFs will need to adapt to these developments in order to remain fit for purpose. Organised by SportAccord, this year’s Forum has the theme “Open Doors and Open Minds – New Tools for IFs”.

“Our objective is to enable IFs to have an adequate understanding of what the future may look like when they take decisions with long-term impacts, for instance regarding contracts with broadcasters and sponsors. There are lots of competitors out there, especially private entities, and we want to support IFs in asserting themselves”, explained ASOIF Executive Director Andrew Ryan during his presentation.

During the last months, ASOIF interviewed key people from the government sector, the business world and sport organisations in order to get their views on future developments in the world of sport. Will Reynolds, a consultant who conducted these interviews on behalf of ASOIF, shared some interesting insights from the conversations with the IF Forum delegates. One assumption is that the next 20 years will see rapid growth in new sporting formats and leagues created by private entities. IFs will be forced to re-evaluate their role and strategy for working with, or against, the private sector. It may even come to the question if IFs can keep their power to name a world champion and govern qualification processes to major events like the Olympic Games.

Andrew Ryan said: “I believe that, in future, IFs will fulfil their classical roles, but they will need to become more entrepreneurial. They will need to think like a business and demonstrate professionalism, strong collaboration and partnerships with external stakeholders as well as a state of the art governance.”

IFs will also need to embrace the concept of digital transformation which is not about just using digital tools. According to a number of interviewees, digital transformation at an organisational level includes velocity, early decision making, empowering people to test things and learning from mistakes.

Some IFs have already evolved commercially through the creation of new competition formats, the optimisation of video content for social sharing, the collaboration with digital partners to gain deep insights into their audiences and reduced reliance on Olympic revenues and on traditional broadcast revenue, to name just a few examples of best practice. Some interviewees assume that it will be easier to see meaningful and effective change in smaller IFs where there is less cultural resistance.

ASOIF aims to finalise the project and publish the full report on “The Future of Global Sport” in early 2019.