Speakers and Participants of the WFF 2017 share their thoughts about the event

Hubert Bienias, Co-Founder at Football Innovation Group, names the top 5 trends of the world football industry and discusses his agenda for the World Football Forum

Top-5 trends of the world football industry?

  • Growing split between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’, between larger clubs and smaller clubs
  • The growth of new ‘economic’ football centres (e.g. Brazil, China)
  • Football is becoming less Europe-centric
  • Decreasing importance / quality of national teams, in favour of club football
  • The growing independent influence and power of large clubs vs. national and international football organisations

- Why is it important to participate in WFF 2017?

Football countries are split into two. In traditional football countries (e.g. England, Germany, Italy) the sport has been developing for over 100 years. It has grown from a community-focused social activity to a large industry employing hundreds of thousands of people. In countries where football is at an earlier stage of development the road is also long in terms of reaching the levels of popularity and technical quality to match those in other countries. However, there is little patience and immediate success is desired. This is because when someone turns on their television they can watch a ‘ready-made’ product, whether it is The Premier League, The Bundesliga or Seria A.

The World Football Forum brings all the different types of football organisations from all the different types of football countries together. This means that in the same place, at the same venue and at the same time the developing football countries can learn from the many different examples and organisations present, to make sure that mistakes are not repeated. At the same time, organisations from the developed football countries can learn much more about the specificity of the various developing football countries and in-turn adapt their strategies towards these countries to ensure that on the one hand they generate maximum benefit from a commercial perspective, but on the other hand to better understand how best to be able to TRULY support the development of football in these countries for the benefit of all concerned.

- What are you planning to discuss at WFF 2017?

I will be leading a discussion on the optimal strategy a Chinese Super League club can employ to build an elite-level squad of players.

There will a particular focus during this discussion on what Chinese club can learn from foreign clubs.

Chinese Super League clubs can learn plenty from their foreign counterparts and can benefit greatly from having European and South American staff and advisors.

At the same time I will attempt to underline the risks of simply 'copying' large European club strategies and structures. Large clubs in Europe are very different to Chinese clubs. Amongst other differences, the three most important differences are:

  • With no foreign player caps, large clubs in Europe can employ multiple players from around the world. Chinese clubs can only bring in a small number.
  • Large clubs in Europe do not have to develop their own players, and very often do not. To develop and grow, Chinese clubs require world-class elite youth development programmes (Academies).
  • Many high-quality coaches (especially youth) and other support-staff work at large European clubs primarily due to the brand strength of the club. For China to employ high-quality coaches (especially youth) and other support-staff from Europe money is the main draw. This requires a much firmer recruitment and management policy to ensure that foreign experts are bringing real quality to the table, and not just working for the financial rewards on offer.

- What would you wish to WFF 2017?

I wish WFF2017 to bring together more football leaders from around the world than any other previous edition of the WFF.

I wish WFF 2017 to be a truly world event – the glitz and glamour of football as the most popular sport in the world combined with world-class technical knowledge that will allow all attendees to take away much more than ‘only’ business cards.

I wish for WFF2017 to be a football event which takes place in China but is like no other football event in China – one that truly focuses in on how to help developing football markets like China, India and the Middle East and truly facilitates an exchange of know-how and ideas.