A Thought Leader – Football is Life


The Growth of World Football – Part I

It is estimated that over 3 Billion people follow the beautiful game of football. Football is the number one sport in the world with a number of administrators, match officials, and other professionals working for the game with great passion and dedication to develop the game globally. Seeing the rapid strides the game has taken globally, it is predicted that over four billion people will be involved in the game in a decade. The opportunity for growth arises from many parts of the world where football is not the no. 1 sport or is not followed by a large percentage of the population. Countries like China, India, and Indonesia are among the most populated, while the USA, Australia, Canada, the Middle East, and even the Caribbean have seen major growth and there is a great focus on football development in all these countries.

The opportunity for growth arises from many parts of the world where football is not the no. 1 sport, or is not followed by a large percentage of the population.

The Sleeping Giants of Asia CHINA As elaborated previously, China has already announced its ambition to be a world power in football to the world.

China fans cheer during the 2018 World Cup Asian qualifying match against Hong Kong in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)



subject of major government development programs and significant business investment, football in China is growing at an unprecedented rate. Since taking office in 2012, President Xi Jinping has made the development of a robust football infrastructure one of his government’s flagship cultural policies and has publicly stated his ambition for China to host or win the World Cup by 2030. In order to achieve its goals, Xi has declared football as a ‘strategy industry’ and is aiming for 50,000 Chinese schools that will make football their principal sport by 2025. Attempting to build a strong grassroots base as well as raising the level of the Chinese Super League, Xi’s government is doing all it can do to improve the country’s chances of success within the game. INDIA The All India Football Federation devised a 39-page Strategic plan for the development of football in the country. The vision of the document lays a strong emphasis on grassroots and youth development outside the Indian Super League as well. It is estimated that the grassroots initiative will attract 350,000 participants by 2016 with an additional 100,000 to follow every year thereafter.

It is estimated that the grassroots initiative will attract 350,000 participants by 2016 with an additional 100,000 to follow every year thereafter.

The youth development and talent identification projects are slated to be formalized in 11 states by this year. Further on other aspects such as coach education, the National Player Registration System (NPRS) will offer a centralized database for checking fraud and corruption. The AIFF also intends to look into its own management structure while professionalizing state associations as well. Finally, a national women’s league is expected to be introduced by 2017 and the AIFF expects the women’s team to break into the top 40 in the world and top eight in Asia by the end of the planning cycle in 2017. India with the second highest population after China is also likely to grow in football and the ever-growing initiatives with the development in football only reinforces that optimism. INDONESIA Indonesia is another country where football has great potential to grow, with a population of 300 million and a tremendous fan following for football Indonesia has a great potential to emerge as a football powerhouse in Asia. The Dutch East Indies as it was known then was the first Asian nation to compete in the FIFA World Cup when it took part in the 1938 tournament in France.  It has tasted varying levels of success in subsequent World Cup qualifications, however, it hasn’t been able to qualify for another tournament. They have been a regional presence, however, tasting success in the Southeast Asian Games and the ASEAN Football Championship.

One hopes they can resolve the issues currently plaguing the football structure in the country, as there is a huge population of football lovers and players in the country.

AUSTRALIA Australia has already tasted international success both in men’s and women’s football and their development initiatives only paint a positive picture of football’s future. Football Federation Australia formed a National Football Development Plan whereby it provided national leadership and support for developing the Game and its talented players was the sole purpose of the sport’s governing body. Since its creation in 2004, the FFA has recognized this along with qualifying for the World Cup, launching the Hyundai A-League, and engaging with Asia, “Serving the football community” was one of four key strategic priorities identified by the new organization back in that year. The FFA Strategic Planning Framework was developed in the first half of 2007 and provides an overreaching structure within which Football in Australia can collaborate in pursuit of our identified strategic priorities.

The framework compromises of four main “pillars”, supported by four key areas of operational excellence.

Four Key Pillars National Team Excellence– Qualify for all World Cups at all age groups across both men’s and women’s teams and create a talented pathway program that sustains this success for generations to come. Hyundai A-League– Manage a National Competition that is commercially viable and sustainable, is highly popular, and is a distinctive and innovative entertainment option in Australian Sport. Football Development– Provide high-quality leadership and support for Member Federations and the participating Football Community, which continually raises the overall standard of football, provides opportunities for all, and fosters lifelong support for the game. Major Events– Host major Football and Non-Football events that are commercially advantageous to FFA, and raise the profile of the game in Australia and Australia’s presence in International Football. In addition, they defined the ‘Four Key Areas of Operational Excellence’, which are a good model for any national federation to follow. Financial Growth– Generate revenue growth through broadcasting, internet, and mobile communications partnerships, innovative new sponsorships, new competition formats, growth in attendance, government partnerships, and new business development. Engagement with Asian Football Confederation– Our new position in Asia opens the opportunity to develop commercial partnerships, and new competition formats to assist our development through participation on key committees and to enhance relationships through Football Diplomacy. Partnerships- Build positive working relationships with key stakeholder groups: Member Federations, Players and Players Association, Clubs, Standing Committees, Federal and State Governments, FIFA, AFC, Australian Sports Commission, AOC, and other key agencies. Governance & Administration– Complete the governance and administration reforms at all levels of the game to ensure the game provides the Governance infrastructure to support the growth and potential of the game. Apart from the Asian countries mentioned, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Central Asian countries also represent regions that will contribute immensely to the growth of football. In my next post, I will examine the growth of football in other parts of the world, including North and South America, and the Middle East. Sources: Wikipedia Channel News Asia IB Times FFA Website

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