Published on 26 June 2018

The football world cup in Russia was not only about sport. It is also a commercial and political event.

On July 15th, France became the new World Champion football team. But knowing whether Russia will win or lose economically at this World Cup will be more complicated. "It is difficult to have an objective view of the profitability of a major international sports competition," explains Michel Desbordes, Professor of sports marketing at Université Paris-Saclay, author of thirty reference books in the field. First of all, because we do not know exactly the cost of investments: the leaders have every interest in hiding their public opinion over budget. And it's quite common in the least democratic and least transparent countries. On the other hand, how long is the profitability of an investment estimated? Should spending on transportation be counted as a contribution to the population after the competition? Revenue, on the other hand, is easier to estimate: you can count the number of tourists compared to a standard year and evaluate their expenses by surveying a part of them. Even if we must be careful in the estimation because many people come without tickets, to attend games in the fan-zones and enjoy the competition. Difficult in this case to have the exact number of visitors... to a million!

Sport and politics

The valorization of a great sporting event is not only economic. When countries like China or Qatar organize the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup, it is above all to show the world that they are capable of it, and to use "soft power" to put forward positive attributes of their country. To succeed in this event is to enter the big leagues. That's why the countries that organize these events are often the ones who really need them politically. When it is a city that organizes, it must have a minimum size, about 10 million inhabitants (for the whole agglomeration). This is the case of the last cities organizing the Olympics (Rio, Tokyo) and the next (Paris, Los Angeles). Conversely, Munich abandoned for the winter Olympics: too small, so too expensive, and difficult to make profitable.

The Olympic Games are often financial pitfalls because there is a lot of mandatory equipment that is not used later. The ideal is then, as for the London Olympics, to opt for removable equipment. Football World Cups, on the other hand, are among the world's most profitable sporting events, under certain conditions. "They take place in countries where football is well established, where the stadiums are already largely built and fill up well, says Michel Desbordes. This is the case in Russia where there are many great football clubs. "

Tourist influx

Thus, at the Euro Football in France in 2016 would have attracted 7 to 8 million people, while there were only 2.5 million tickets on sale. The others came to share festive moments, follow the matches in the "fan zones", and discover France. "People often talk about them, it encourages their friends to come as tourists, observes Michel Desbordes. This long-term effect is difficult to quantify, and can spread over 10 years! "Conversely, a competition that goes wrong, such as the Atlanta Olympics in 2016, which everyone agrees to find poorly organized, and who have experienced a bomb attack, have a disastrous effect on the city. A great sporting event is a spotlight on a country, for better or for worse.

Two courses in sports management

Organize major international sporting events, take care of the communication of a club or an equipment manufacturer, be responsible for sports sponsorship, help the State to develop sports practices, plan the construction of sports equipment ... as many outlets exhilarating for holders of a master's degree in sport management. Paris-Sud University, a member of the Université Paris-Saclay, offers two courses for students who have obtained a degree in Science and Technology for Physical and Sports Activities (STAPS). This training is also open to students from other masters with knowledge and professional and sports experience in direct relation to training.

The course "Event Management and Sports Leisure" aims to train event specialists able to address all aspects: organizational, logistics, marketing, sponsorship, commercial, legal, sports, etc. Its markets are mainly in the private sector: sports clubs, equipment manufacturers, communication or sports event agencies, major competitions.

The course "public policies and strategies of sports organizations" is aimed at those at the interface between the policies of the State and the strategies of clubs and sports federations. They will become for example directors of sports services in local communities, responsible for development projects in sports organizations, or sports equipment managers.

These two courses have developed numerous partnerships with private and public sports stakeholders (clubs, federations, equipment manufacturers, local authorities, sports leisure organizations, INSEP...), guaranteeing a facilitated insertion for their students.