POSTED: April 21st 2016

SportAccord: Sorrell targets measures for change in Sport - adapt or die

Sir Martin Sorrell / SportAccord
Sir Martin Sorrell / SportAccord

LAURA WALDEN in Lausanne at the SwissTech Convention Center / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Sir Martin Sorrell's keynote address at the SportAccord Digital Summit brought transparency and accountability to the forefront driving home the point that sport needs to adapt to survive. Sorrels is the CEO of marketing and advertising services of WPP, the world's largest communications services group, employing 190,000 people working in 3,000 offices in 112 countries. 

These are the principal issues weighing on sport today impacting the future of sport and its commercial existence.

He said, "Recent events have not been good. There is a breakdown in the confidence of leadership and it has been rather unpleasant. Sports governance has been intensely covered in the media in the past year.

"There is a tsunami of scandals in sport and sponsors are questioning their involvement. Few new sponsors are coming forward. Many are withdrawing. Fans are confused.

"The IAAF is facing issues with Adidas. FIFA faces similar issues in finding sponsors for World Cups in 2018 and 2022.

"Crisis in sport comes to the minds of cities and governments when bidding for sports events, because scandals can leave events with a negative image.

"Three issues raised by major CEOs are credibility, sustainability and responsibility, and they apply to sports organizations.

"The current crisis will not disappear. It is unsustainable for sports organizations and it affects sponsors in their association with NFs, IFs, and individual organizations," he added.

Sorrell brought up the fact that skeletons cannot be hidden in closets because the organizations are held to a higher level of scrutiny after recent scandals. He said, "They have the delicate task of balancing policy-makers and sponsors, but sport has the ability to heal differences.

"The challenge is to adapt or die or, on a more positive note, adapt and thrive. Good governance comes from independent drug-testing.

"Sport should also simplify its calendar and bring in people from the outside to provide an overview."

He also said that the media can be used effectively as a means to repair the damage of the recent scandals to work on the future.

Sorrell summed up the situation saying, "Sports organizations have a historic opportunity to rebuild trust with fans through communications strategies. How you use data and insights to engage fans and attract sponsors is key."

"Sport is about unifying people. It is about hope, commitment, and fulfilment. These are values that are incredibly powerful for your organizations. These are the sort of core values that you should be identifying when defining your Purpose and maintaining your relevance."

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.


Keywords · Olympics · SportAccord

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