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  1 % Director/senior executive level

About World Football Forum 2017

CHANGSHA, 20 May 2017: Football and industry leaders from China and across Asia and Europe were heading home tonight from the World Football Forum in the Chinese city of Changsha, following three days of discussion, insight - and some world-class football from international football legends Robert Pires, Giazka Mendieta, Gianluca Zambrotta, Gilberto da Silva, David James and Roberto Carlos.

In WFF’s first ever event outside Europe, prominent names in football governance and the wider sports industry were able to see for themselves the scale of China’s football ambition, and although Chinese Football Association Vice President and General Secretary Zhang Jian – who gave a keynote address at the Forum - played down suggestions that China is yet in a position to win a FIFA World Cup™ on home soil, there is no doubt as to China’s drive to become a football superpower.

In comments at the Forum, Mr. Zhang also spoke about the positive influences of foreign players in the Chinese Super League, however called for “a good balance between the local and the foreign players”.

As ever, the scope of WFF 2017 covered the development of the sport not just in China but also in other regions of the ‘new geography of football’, with sessions focusing on India and a broad look at the state of the world’s favourite game in Russia, as that country prepares to open its doors to the football world in only a few weeks’ time for the FIFA Confederations Cup. The India focus session featured Vice President of the All-India Football Federation and Member of the AFC Finance Committee, Subrata Dutta, who gave a compelling vision for football in Asia as a whole in his keynote address on Day 1 of the event, before focusing on his own country in Day 2. With India hosting the FIFA U17 World Cup later in 2017, and on-going questions surrounding the merger between the I-League and the Indian Super League, there was much to discuss.

The tone for the Russian element of the programme was set by Alexander Djordjadze, Deputy CEO of 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Russia Local Organising Committee, who headed a senior level panel of speakers from the Russian football establishment, including football legend Alexey Smertin and Vice President of the International Students Football Union, Sergei Kolushev.

WFF’s Industry Insight sessions covered topics ranging from smart sponsorship to esports to football tourism.

In a brand new 3-day format in 2017, WFF’s programme included a variety of fringe events and networking opportunities. The iSportconnect Director’s Club – now in its second year of collaboration with the World Football Forum, saw iSportconnect Chairman Michael Cunnah engage in an open and revealing conversation with Dr. Tony Xia, Aston Villa FC’s new owner. The WFF Dinner – including traditional Chinese musical entertainment – was a chance for delegates to unwind and meet. On Saturday 20 May, WFF moved out of the conference hall and onto the pitch with an international all-stars football match at Changsha’s He Long stadium.

WFF 2017 Organising Partners:
Government of Changsha;
Changsha Sports Bureau;
More Sport.

WFF 2017 General Partners:
Shankai Sports
Inventive Sports
Sovetsky Sport
Inside World Football


The programme of The World Football Forum 2017 is as usual composed of a variety of different business activities.
Topics covered this year will include grassroots development, fan engagement, sports tourism, esports - and of course the development of football in our host nation of China.

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Event History

In 2011, Eventica launched the World Football Forum – a high profile international conference focusing on the multi-billion dollar business of football – following the announcement of Russia’s first FIFA World Cup™ in 2018. Since then, this annual event has become firmly established in the football industry calendar, bringing together leading figures from football across the globe in major football hubs around the world.

Over the years the World Football Forum has attracted delegates from around the world with a programme that explores the critical issues facing world football.

In 2016, WFF took place in Paris at the culmination of UEFA Euro 2016, however the scope of the event reached far beyond the confines of European football. Prominent names in football governance and the wider industry in the rapidly developing sports markets of China and India were the focus of the event, underscoring WFF’s commitment to highlighting opportunities in dynamic new markets.


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Event Partners

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The World Football Forum is organised by Eventica Sport, the sports business division of leading strategic communications agency Eventica Communications, with extensive experience in event organisation and management, PR and media. The World Football Forum is the latest in a series of football focused initiatives from Eventica Sport. The company organises the Global Sports Industry Congress and sports activations worldwide.

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