WITH the World Cup less than a week away Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sports Enterprise at the University of Salford looks at what the sports governing body hoped to gain for the tournament.
Writing for The Conversation, Professor Chadwick said: “Whatever the whims and desires of fans, teams and players who will be in Russia this summer, the goals of world football’s most important off-field stakeholders provide an intriguing backdrop.
“As FIFA’s commercial partners carefully navigate a troubling business landscape, broadcasters face the prospect of falling off a cliff. Since 2014, the Instagram generation has rapidly shifted its content consumption from 90 minutes to 90 seconds. Indeed, recent reports from across the world claim that people are turning away from sport on television.
“Russia 2018 will therefore be an acid test of just how robust football’s global TV audience is, and of the inroads digital and social media have made into traditional broadcasting territory. FIFA will no doubt be watching with some trepidation, as a large proportion of the organisation’s revenues have typically been drawn from broadcasting contracts. Yet this is not the only challenge facing world football’s governing body.
“The residue of corruption inside FIFA remains, and many in football are still suspicious of its intentions. Although Sepp Blatter has now gone, his successor as president has divided opinion. Gianni Infantino appears to be taking FIFA off in a new direction, and has sought to introduce all manner of changes from enlarging the World Cup to introducing a newly formatted Club World Cup, which would be comprised of twenty four of the world’s leading clubs playing each other every four years.
“Some critics see him less as a radical reformer than as someone who is perpetuating the organisation’s previous failings – while others believe he has been trying to move too far too fast and is intent on imposing his own personal agenda. Indeed, Infantino’s desire to secure FIFA’s financial future is most clearly evident in the way he is looking eastwards in the search for funds.
“As the World Cup kicks off, Infantino will also want a successful, trouble-free competition, not least because of worries about Russian hooliganism and the violence that marred Euro 2016. After all, he faces re-election as FIFA president in June 2019.”