19 de dezembro de 2022

ESG is a good move for the football industry

The vast majority of those who grow up feeding the dream of sport are unable to reach a professional path - and are just left behind

Brazilian football is a thriving industry, accounting for almost 1% of the national GDP and with solid growth potential. At the same time, it is an industry that mistreats its primary source of wealth: The group of youth practitioners, or “the base,” where professional footballers, the big stars, and their clubs are incubated. Although troublesome, this contradiction provides an opportunity for the business world – and a favorable situation for applying ESG culture.

ESG is the acronym for Environmental, Social, and Governance, an indicator of business efforts to value environmental, social, and corporate governance issues. It is a type of strategy in which profit is still the goal, but the way to achieve it goes through broader paths. Money is reallocated for projects that work for a fairer and more equal world, have greater responsibility in using natural resources, and invest in social development. Thus, companies build reputation, strengthen the presence of their brands in communities, associate their product with ethical issues, develop their storytelling, and strengthen their foundations.

By taking this practice – currently trending in the business environment – for investing in youth players of Brazilian football, companies will be able to build more sensitive links with their audiences. They will benefit from the national passion for the sport through direct relations with those involved with it and through the indirect ways of its social and economic impact.

Of course, for this to be viable, the effort must also take place in the opposite direction. The training clubs and social projects also need to invest in their governance to be ethically attractive to brands. In Brazil, youth football does not currently provide a positive and healthy path for those who are not intended for elite clubs. The vast majority of those who grow up feeding the dream of football — after spending much of their youth playing for their future —end up not reaching the professional path. They are simply left behind, dealing with the loss of not having had another capacity-building education. That makes us recognize that the basis of this industry is not well cared for.

Grassroots clubs can become attractive to companies, and their investments in ESG turn the passion for football into a formative and inclusive social structure. Thus, companies will be interested in broadening space, reputation, and strength by linking their names with the transformation of football into a more prosperous and healthier community. And the clubs will primarily benefit from the private investments they can receive. Finally, even the large industry of elite clubs will win with this alliance as the emergence of sports stars becomes more consistent —since investment in the base means more stability in professional training.

Hence, it is a serendipitous moment for such a transformation in the structure of national football, thanks to the law that regulates public limited sports companies (SAF in its Brazilian acronym) — a legal status that clubs can assume, closer to the business model. SAFs are required to commit to the creation of an Educational and Social Development Program. This legal measure calls for public-private integration in the structuring and development of the base that supports the sport.

Therefore, companies need to take advantage of the moment and be aware of what is happening in the football world. Under the entrepreneurial eye of ESG culture, football is also a fertile and safe ground for the alliance between social responsibility, economic development, and business communication in Brazil.



Journalist with titles in Philosophy from USP and Business Management from Stanford Global Business School. Currently Executive Director of Aberje, member of the Board of Directors of Poiésis, and one of the leaders of Tem Mais Gente Lendo, a project that encourages and encourages reading in public spaces.

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