Carlos Alberto Fernandez |

Sports Writing, (EFE).- The World Football Summit opens in Seville, where the ball of the football industry will roll with an economic impact of 18.5 million euros, according to data from the Andalusian town hall. The sixth edition of this event will bring together 2,500 participants on site, another thousand online and 170 speakers over two days, Wednesday and Thursday next week, who will discover the trend of football on and off the pitch.

Before leaving Europe to visit the African continent for the first time (Durban, South Africa) in November, WFS arrives at FIBES in Seville, in a “city with a great footballing tradition and which is in a period of attraction of business tourists, attracting major international fairs that can help you increase this traffic,” explains the company’s CEO, Marian Otamendi, in an interview with Efe.

Of the 2,500 people who will gather in Seville, 62% will come from outside Spain. “Our vocation has been international since our beginnings in 2016”, underlines the manager of this meeting point for the football industry.

It’s actually “his most attractive point and the differential value, the networking, the interactions” that happen in 48 hours, during which the “deal” arises. More than 50 presentations are planned as well as an exhibition space in which around fifty brands present their new products.

Investment funds will have their space with Alejandro Irarragorri, from the Orlegi group, new owner of Sporting de Gijón, among the speakers. “They have realized that sports entities are an asset with great revaluation power and that is why they invest a lot, especially American and Asian funds and some from the Middle East,” explains Otamendi.

Some go further, with “multi-club” management to “share resources, talents” and, ultimately, “generate economies of scale”.

And it is that the clubs “do not stop being businesses, with income and expenses”, although they have their peculiarities, and they are looking, as the CEO of WFS explains, for new income. The example is Barcelona and its levers.

“Some of these levers are new financial products to promote greater growth and different from traditional products. I think that all the levers that can be used to promote higher incomes are welcome, ”defends Otamendi.

Barcelona have sold 24.5% of Barca Studios to Mediapro partner and founder Jaume Roures, who will be in Seville. “These operations are part of the monetization of clubs beyond the classic revenue from ticketing and merchandising”, reasons the CEO of the event hosted by Seville.

Clubs are also exploring ‘engagement’, consumer engagement with their brand, to capture greater monetization on matchdays. It is the “Americanization” of football, the spectacle goes beyond the field. “In Spain we always arrive, we see the game and we leave. It’s about the fan who arrives earlier, consumes more, buys t-shirts, orders a hot dog or popcorn from their seat. It still seems strange to us, but it will come,” predicts Otamendi.

The forum will analyze new methods of stadium accessibility, facial biometrics. “We are moving in the direction of being more controlled and I know that this generates controversy, but in terms of security and accessibility, the procedure becomes more efficient; these are more agile and secure accesses, ”he reasons.

The consumption patterns of Generation Z will be on the WFS board: “They were born with a mobile phone in the cradle and they consume football differently. There is talk of their disaffection with football, but La Liga stats don’t indicate that, rather they consume it in a different way.

Beyond the economy, football, maintains Otamendi, “is a very important lever for inclusion, schooling and good practices, the fight against racism, the inclusion of diversity”. It requires “positive referents” who “influence” society.

He points out that now, for example, “girls look at themselves in the mirror of Alexia Putellas, that’s what they want to be when they grow up” and not in those of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Beatriz Álvarez Mesa, president of the Women’s Professional Football League, will share in Seville the “growth strategies” she has. Women are empowered in football.

“Last year we made a pledge with Women in Football, a UK organization that promotes equality in football, and we committed that 30% of speakers would be women. We got over it and we are proud. They are not women by quota, but with a proven track record. It’s a granite, because, in the end, it’s true that the football industry is still very masculinized, ”argues the CEO of the World Fooball Summit.

With “the spirit of Captain Thunder”, he denounces racism in sport, “absolutely unacceptable”, he wants the “soccer war” in Spain between La Liga and the Royal Spanish Football Federation “to be fixed and resolved soon because everyone loses”, those two organizations and the supporters, and a glimpse of what football will be like in five years.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but what I see clearly is the unbridled irruption of technology. People are surprised by the number of tech companies and start-ups that come to the World Football Summit. There is a lot of research, innovation and development on player performance, tactics, injury prevention, stadiums, scouting… it will be a more “technological” sport, we will have more images more impressive and the important thing is that WFS accompanies this growth,” he says Otamendi, surrounded by hundreds of books in his office.

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