Geopolitics in Sport - Thematic Intelligence

Geopolitics in Sport - Thematic Intelligence


An analysis of how sport has been affected by wider political events in the last century or so, and how society continues to influence things.

Dating back to the Second World War, professional sport has always been hindered by more important events. While conflicts of this nature are unlikely to occur again in modern times, every sphere of sports business can be impacted by political situations, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier in 2022 being a prime example.

Political events often have a significant ripple effect on sporting events, with events sometimes needing to be rearranged or rescheduled. As a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 2022 UEFA Champions League final, which was originally supposed to be held in St Petersburg was moved to Paris, while all Russian teams were expelled from European competitions for the 2022/2023 season. Additionally, the news led to the termination of several sponsorship deals with Russian brands.

A more stable society post-WWII has allowed the sporting world to thrive and develop in popularity and interest. For much of the 20th century, the growth of sport was stunted by major global events, including the two World Wars and the devastating loss of life and significant damage inflicted on various countries throughout Europe and Asia. Following the conclusion of the Second World War, sport gradually began to take a greater hold in society, although some of the events of the war did later influence occurrences in sport, with individuals from certain countries feeling particularly strong sentiments against some countries, such as Dutch footballers against Germany in the 1970s.

Key Highlights

The last tournament to be held pre-WWII was the 1938 edition in France, which saw Italy retain its trophy. The planned 1942 and 1946 editions were canceled outright due to the outbreak of WWII. Following the conclusion of the war, FIFA was once again in a difficult financial situation, having not had any way to financially sustain itself during wartime, and their first meeting post-war was held in 1946 to determine when the next tournament could be held. Hosted by Brazil, the next FIFA World Cup was held in 1950, although many nations were hesitant to take part given that many were still rebuilding and recovering from the disastrous damage caused by the Second World War. Surprisingly, Italy also participated even though many of their national team players were killed in an airplane crash in 1949, later dubbed the ‘Superga air disaster’. Germany and Japan were both unable to participate in the competition having both been suspended from FIFA, although both were later readmitted to FIFA in 1950, with Germany now competing as West Germany. The East German soccer team was inducted into FIFA in 1952. Many nations behind the Iron Curtain also declined to take part in the tournament, due to ongoing political turmoil.
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been ongoing since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and began moving its soldiers into the region. Friction arose over Russia’s belief that Ukraine is a Russian territory, while Ukraine has vehemently and repeatedly affirmed its independence. The conflict escalated in nature in February 2022 when Russia launched its invasion, with significant numbers of troops moving across the border. The effects on the region have been devastating, and the impact on the sporting world has also been of note.
Footballer Mesut Ozil, while at Arsenal, posted a tweet urging the world to pay greater attention to the plight of the Uyghur Muslims in China, and he criticized Muslims for not bringing the subject to more attention. Arsenal’s official Twitter account issued a statement announcing that Ozil’s views were his alone and that the club did not involve itself in politics. Arsenal has many business interests in China, and Ozil’s comments would have been impactful on Arsenal’s financial performance in that region. Around a similar time, Arsenal player Hector Bellerin encouraged young people to go and vote in the upcoming election, including an expletive towards politician Boris Johnson. The club did not acknowledge or respond to Bellerin’s post, highlighting the hypocritical nature of their stance, as this post was inherently political. In response to Ozil’s tweet, China removed him from three video games in response and stated that Ozil had “hurt the feelings” of Chinese fans. China also removed their upcoming broadcast of an Arsenal game from their schedule. The situation had wider repercussions, as German football team FC Cologne withdrew from the building of a football academy in China, on the grounds that Cologne should not cooperate with a country that was building a complete “surveillance state”.

Who should buy

Investors who are attempting to understand the shifting dynamics in the sporting world, and how this has been influenced by geopolitics.
Sports industry professionals who want a detailed analysis on how sports is increasingly being affected by geopolitical developments.
Sports industry workers who are keen to understand which countries, teams and leagues have been most affected by wider political events.

  • This report provides breakdowns of how geopolitical situations have influenced sporting events.
  • It identifies the key geopolitical trends that have wider effects on the world of sport and sport business.
  • A look at some of the current geopolitical developments that have affected modern sport.
  • A detailed look at the geopolitics value chain, and how value generators can be affected by developing news stories.
Reasons to Buy
  • For those wanting an in-depth analysis of the geopolitics sector and its crossover with sport.
  • Discusses how developing news stories can have wide-ranging effects on all aspects of the sporting world.
  • GlobalData’s thematic research ecosystem is a single, integrated global research platform that provides an easy-to-use framework for tracking all themes across all companies in all sectors. It has a proven track record of identifying the important themes early, enabling companies to make the right investments ahead of the competition, and secure that all-important competitive advantage.

Executive Summary
Thematic Briefing
Event hosting
Ukraine & Russia
LIV Golf
Industry trends
Industry Analysis
Market size and growth forecasts
Canceled sporting events
Value Chain
Public companies
Further Reading
GlobalData reports
Our Thematic Research Methodology
About GlobalData
Contact Us
List of Tables
Table 1: Industry trends
Table 2: Public companies
Table 3: GlobalData reports
List of Figures
Figure 1: Who are the leading players in the geopolitics theme, and where do they sit in the value chain?
Figure 2: The global sports industry will eclipse $360 billion in revenues by 2030
Figure 3: The geopolitics story
Figure 4: The geopolitics value chain
Figure 5: Our five-step approach for generating a sector scorecard

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