Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

European Football under Close Scrutiny

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

European Football under Close Scrutiny

Article excerpt

Abstract

Consumers are increasingly looking beyond products, and are expressing concern for the respect of societal values. This paper analyses how football organisations and governing bodies in Europe are adapting their marketing strategies to reflect these concerns. 'Ethical charters' or 'ethical codes of behaviour' need to be redefined under close scrutiny from shareholders and stakeholders. Whether it is a deliberate decision or a forced change, football organisations must respond to simultaneous commercial and political pressures.

Keywords

marketing

ethics

deontology

football

governing bodies

stakeholders

Executive summary

The commercial aspect of football is growing inexorably, and this requires the adaptation of its various structures to the changing socio-economic context. Even though sporting authorities have always promoted ethical attitudes, some of their rules have demonstrated some weaknesses in terms of how they respect societal values. However, consumers are increasingly looking beyond products, and are expressing concern for the respect of societal values. This change in mentality seems praiseworthy when the organisation acts positively with regard to both its own objectives and the values of society. As a new social standard, ethics does not claim to serve an ideal, but is a means by which the interests of the majority can be satisfied. In terms of social responsibility, sport embodies an ideal. As the flagship of an egalitarian society, it should be the emblematic example for ethical conduct. The aim of this paper is two-fold. First, it will analyse the framework within which the system of ethics used by football authorities has been designed, and identify the pressures exerted by stakeholders. These pressures can take a commercial form (sponsors, broadcasters, spectators, fans, etc.) as well as economic and political forms, and are imposed by federal governments, communities and citizens. Second, it will examine how ethical concerns, which are vital to the future of sport, can coexist with the increasing impact of commercial concerns. The main question is whether ethical concerns and commercial imperatives are compatible, and whether they can successfully coexist while at the same time respecting ethical values.

Our approach, based on a documentary study and concrete cases, falls within the framework of the stakeholder theory. It focuses on the normative dimension of this theory, as it examines the introduction of an ethical dimension into the analysis of strategic management.

The first section of this paper aims to examine the interdependence of the concepts of ethics and deontology. In response to various scandals, ethics has become a rallying point in the communications made by leaders in the worlds of business and sport. We examine the fragile equilibrium for the football industry between a market dimension and an ethical dimension. From a matrix that takes into account the ethical importance in the marketing strategy of football organisations and their identity-oriented or collective actions, four different approaches have been identified: an ethics of comparative responsibility; an ethics of conviction; forced ethics; and egocentricity or self-centeredness. The second section of the paper deals with ethics as a new management tool. Pressured by their partners and stakeholders, football organisations are forced to put ethical considerations at the centre of their communication activities. Ethics thus catalyses strategy; the strategy of international sporting organisations tends to oscillate between commitment and opportunism. It is necessary for sporting organisations to protect their relationships with consumers, fans and sponsors if they want to ensure their commercial survival. The marketing consequences cannot be ignored; actions must be in congruence with an ethical dialogue. Under pressure from stakeholders, football organisations have had to adapt their global strategies to the changing world scene, and are under close scrutiny. …

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