indgren-021508-ajaxnlAlthough borders in Europe have long gone, football in Europe is still very much a national affair. Each country still has its own national league, each and every one of them with their own identity and image. Whether it is the Premier League, Serie A or Bundesliga, one immediately has an image on whether these leagues are attractive in terms of football or not. Is the league competitive, are clubs generally playing attacking or defensive football etc? We have briefly looked at how many goals are scored in each league and which teams are scoring the most goals on average in Europe. In this perspective The Netherlands and Ajax are the winners.

Leagues have their own image. Come to think of it. In Europe the Dutch are wellknown for the attacking kind of football they play, which often is at the expense of defense. In contrast the Italians are known for their defensive style (still dealing with the relics of catenaccio), leading to the perception that not a lot of goals are being scored. The Premier League and the Primera Division are probably the leagues where the world’s best players are gathered, both in terms of defensive and offensive players. It should be interesting to see whether some of these perceptions are true and in which countries the most and the least goals are being scored. In the table below we have summarized how many goals on average are scored each game in a specific national league during the last 5 years.


Country Goals Matches Goals/Match
Netherlands 4598 1530 3.01
Norway 2826   968 2.92
Switzerland 2555   900 2.84
Germany 4342 1530 2.84
Denmark 2775   990 2.80
Austria 2509   900 2.79
Belgium 4123 1530 2.69
Turkey 3989 1530 2.61
Scotland 2959 1140 2.60
Sweden 2644 1026 2.58
Italy 4878 1900 2.57
Spain 4837 1900 2.55
UK 4794 1900 2.52
Greece 2752 1200 2.29
Portugal 3045 1332 2.29
France 4235 1900 2.23


The Netherlands most productive. It is interesting to note that some perceptions are indeed confirmed and that the overall ranking reasonably fits with what one would suspect. Not surprisingly The Netherlands tops the list, indeed confirming the attacking kind of football. It is also noticeable that the more northern European countries rank generally at the top half of the list, whereas the southern European countries rank at the bottom half. The last place of France surprises somewhat given the French generally play attractive football. The final conclusion is that the leagues where the most money is at stake (UK, Spain and Italy) also can be found at the bottom.

Productivity depending on different factors. We also looked at which clubs are most productive by taking the 5 year average number of goals scored during league matches. Clearly results partly depend on the strength of the league and the extent to which a club is dominating its league. Several weeks ago, we published an article on the competitive balance in European football, in which we concluded that this balance did not exist in most leagues. Hence it should be no surprise that the rankings are topped by either the European traditionals facing limited competitive balance in their leagues and hence often ending up in the top 3 or by clubs which are part of leagues where many goals are scored.


Club Goals/Match Club Goals/Match Club Goals/Match
Ajax 2.31 Manchester 1.90 Kalmar FF 1.75
Porto 2.25 Arsenal 1.89 Club Brugge 1.74
PSV 2.18 Real Madrid 1.88 AEK 1.69
Basel 2.17 Yboys 1.88 Brondby 1.67
Celtic 2.14 Rosenborg 1.87 Panathinaikos 1.65
Fenerbace 2.10 Inter 1.85 Besiktas 1.65
Lissabon 2.10 Galataseray 1.84 Liverpool 1.63
Barcelona 2.09 Rapid Wien 1.84 Lyon 1.63
Anderlecht 2.09 Juventus 1.84 IFK 1.63
Bremen 2.08 AC 1.79 Stuttgart 1.60
AZ 2.04 Chelsea 1.79 Schalke 1.52
Benfica 2.03 Standard 1.79 Sevilla 1.49
Bayern 1.98 Kopenhagen 1.78 Valencia 1.47
Rangers 1.93 Salzburg 1.77 Austria Wien 1.46
Zurich 1.93 AS Roma 1.76 Grasshoppers 1.46
Olympiakos 1.91 Leverkusen 1.76 Hamburg 1.45


Ajax is taking the number one spot. This may come as a surprise to many as the club has not been league winners during the last 5 years. However, it has consistently performed in the top 4 of its league, whilst performing in a competition with limited competitive balance, also explaining the high ranking of PSV Eindhoven. Moreover, the club has always been known for its offensive kind of football. In that perspective it is nice to see it taking the number one spot. For the number two, the story is not that different. FC Porto grabbed the championship four out of the last 5 times, again in a competition even less balanced than that of The Netherlands. In spite of the fact that they are playing in relatively low scoring leagues, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid are ranking high due to their consistent good performances.

It is sad to see what the Americas Cup has evolved into. Rather than battling it out on the water, the 33rd Americas Cup has turned into a legal tug of war, fought out in Court. Sportsmanship and fair play seem to have long gone and sadly the outcome will contain only losers, including the eventual winner of the cup. That can be seen as a blow to the credibility of the Americas Cup (although it will survive) and the sport of sailing, something both syndicates can take the blame for.

The America’s Cup has always been one of sailing’s biggest traditions, a race between the sport’s best sailors sailing with the most advanced material and equipment. Hence there has always been a lot of money involved. The Americas Cup is the world’s oldest active trophy in international sport. It is a challenge-driven series of match races between two yachts which is governed by the Deed of Gift (a registered trust document in the Supreme Court of the State of New York). In the old days business tycoons from different continents battled it out on the water with some of the most magnificent ships one can imagine. In those days it was a gentlemen sport, where sportsmanship and fair play were the name of the game. No doubt Sir Thomas Lipton was one of the greatest figures in the history of the America’s Cup, challenging the cup 5 times. No wonder he is known as one of the world’s most graceful losers. Unfortunately times have changed and even sailing has become big business. The battle for the 33rd Americas Cup still lies in the hands of 2 big business tycoons. However, where sportsmanship reigned in the old days, this has now been replaced by mudslinging and courtcases. Sad for sailing indeed and even more for the Americas Cup.

Who are these two billionaire tycoons, with unprecedented egos? They are famous US software businessman Larry Ellison with his trimaran BMW Oracle and the Swiss biotech tycoon Ernesto Bertarelli with his catamaran Alinghi. Both gentlemen are not prepared to lose and will do everything to win the Cup, either on but preferably (as it appears) off the water in Court leading to some unprecedented (in sailing that is) legal wrestling. Too bad Thomas Lipton is not around anymore to teach them a lesson or two on how to deal gracefully with such matters. Alinghi is the defender of the Cup and hence is almost in complete control of the competition according to the Deed of Gift.

A brief summary. I realize many are fed up with the whole issue (they should skip the next section), but following is a brief summary on which issues these parties have been fighting:
1.Which club would be the Challenger of Record? Following the successful defense of the Cup in 2007, Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG, Alinghi)) accepted a challenge for the 33rd Cup from Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV), a newly formed yacht club, created for the purpose of challenging for the Cup. However, the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC, BMW Oracle) initiated legal action claiming CNEV did not meet the terms of the Deed of Gift as a legitimate yacht club. Simultaneously GGYC entered as a challenger for the Cup. After extensive litigation, GGYC became the official challenger.
2. Multi challenger format or not? In the end it was decided that there will be 3 races between GGYC’s BMW Oracle and SNG’s Alinghi 5
3. Dates and venue. Despite various attempts both parties could not agree on a date for the race. In the end the Court ruled that the race has to take place in February 2010. After this, the dispute went on regarding the venue of the race. SNG filed for Ras al-Khaimah in the Northern Hemisphere, GGYC immediately replying this was not in accordance with the Deed. In the end the Court decided the race to be held in Valencia, Spain.
4. Rules of the Match. Disagreements on issues such as measurements, powered winches, moveable ballast, rules during the race were by means of Court intervention finally decided upon.
5. The construction of the boats. The latest Court action in this ongoing saga comes from GGYC, claiming SNG’s sails are not constructed in the country where the competing yacht resides, which is not in accordance with the Deed of Gift. To be continued…..

No winners. Are you still there? This is sadly how the America’s Cup has evolved…….In the mean time both parties have arrived in Valencia where the races (the first to win two races will be the winner) are due to start on February 8, so in less than a month time. Clearly the pestering is going on, the latest being that the appointed infrastructure (marina) is not suitable for BMW Oracle and could create dangerous situations. Nevertheless if everything goes well, we should be done and over within a month time, when finally the battle will take place on the water. Whoever will be the winner of the Cup, it will be a Pyrrhic victory, in fact containing only losers; the two syndicates (think about brand values), the spectators (2-3 races only) and the sport of sailing, which has lost some of its credibility.

It is to hope that all involved parties will get to their senses for the next edition of the Americas Cup; in this perspective the Deed of Gift requires some revisions and questions should be asked what direction the Americas Cup should take. The Americas Cup has always been innovative as far as technology is concerned requiring huge investments. The danger exists that the Americas Cup would be caught in the same trap as Formula One did a few years ago; enormous budgets limiting the potential number of challengers and technology taking over from the sailormen (we do not want to end with unmanned yachts, do we?).

Hence action required! When looking back the 32nd edition of the Cup in 2007 has been great for all parties involved. A significant number of challengers with relatively similar equipment and some close racing. In the end that is what match racing should be all about!

michael_schumacher1Although I have always admired Michael Schumacher for his driving capability, I never have been fond of his behavior both on and off the track. Nevertheless I have to admit I am kind of looking forward to his return to Formula One. Formula One should be fun again and probably thanks to Schumacher the sport should regain some of its lost popularity again.

Michael Schumacher is a phenomenon and star. He has been Formula One’s most successful driver, winning 91 Grand Prix and 7 World Championships. Who cannot remember his famous battles with other stars such as Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Mika Hakkinen. Nevertheless the guy is controversial; one can clearly remember how he tried to eliminate Jacques Villeneuve in order to try to become champion or how he parked his car during qualifying in Monaco in order to prevent Fisichella and Alonso taking pole position. He also is known to politically eliminate his teammates, by taking care that they did not get the same material. In any case Michael’s sporting behavior seems not to be one of his core values. That’s probably, why he has done so well in Formula One, which is not always an example of integrity either.

In his absence Formula One has gone through tough times. Firstly the sport lost some of its popularity given the lack of charismatic stars such as Schumacher. One can barely say that Kimmi Raikkonen is interesting to watch or listen to (besides when he is in the car of course), whereas Hamilton is too polished to be really colorful (the ideal son in law, where did we see this before?). At least Schumacher has always been authentic, not always likeable but authentic. That’s why many people like him and why he is important to Formula One.
Secondly the sport did face a financial and economic crisis. Several car manufacturers like BMW, Honda and Toyota withdrew from the sport, whereas Bridgestone will quit after the upcoming season. Instead new less appealing (at least no real brand names as of yet) teams such as Campos Meta 1, Team US F1, Virgin Racing and Lotus F1 Racing will appear on the grid. Adding to the difficulties, sponsors are less inclined to enter Formula One.

Concluding, given the decline in popularity and the aftermath of the financial crisis, Formula One is in dire need of charismatic stars and hence the return of Schumacher should be seen as a blessing.

Watching Formula One should be fun again and I am certainly looking forward to it. Whether you hate or love the guy, Schumacher brings spice again. It’s a bit like the old Michel Vaillant strips where the good guy (Michel Vaillant) is fighting the bad guy. Formula One should embrace the return of Schumacher, he might even turn into the good guy!

federerWe have almost finished 2009 and have witnessed an eventful sporting year on and off the pitch. Who cannot remember the win of the Steelers against the Cardinals in the superbowl or the stunning race of Usain Bolt in which he broke the 100 metres world record by a mile, or Tiger’s great comeback after his injury (although he didn’t manage to win a major and did take a sidestep at the end of the year), or Roger Federer breaking Pete Sampras’ grand slam record. In spite of all of this 2010 should be a much more eventful sporting year given bonus events such as the Winter Olympics and the World Championships of Football. We briefly discuss the 10 biggest sports events to look forward to.

1. American Football (NFL). In the NFL the Colts should beat the Saints in what would probably be the dream final of the 2009-2010 season. Two teams with 2 great quarterbacks should deserve to battle it out in Miami, with Peyton Manning likely to be the big star. And if any of these two teams won’t make it to the Superbowl, look for the Chargers or Vikings as potential stand-ins.

2. Vancouver 2010, the Winter Olympics. Lots to look forward to. In hockey crazed Vancouver, team Canada should get away with the gold, beating the Swedes in the finals. That’s an easy one and chances for a surprise winner in this field are virtually zero. As far as the countries taking away the most gold medals, it should be a battle between Germany, the US and Canada and don’t be surprised if the Canucks, feeling strong on home soil, take it away. The biggest golddiggers? Speedskaters Sven Kramer and Shani Davis will probably battling it out, both of them going for 3 gold medals. Or could Ole Einar Bjorndalen (biathlon) do it one more time in his fourth Olympics? Although he still regularly wins, I doubt whether he will pull it off this time……In any case it will be fun and the great city of Vancouver will only add to the pleasure!

3. Golf. It could be Phil’s season but don’t count out the Tiger! Having put behind the illness of his wife, Phil Mickelson could be back with a vengeance and win a couple of majors. Much will depend on Tiger. If he will divorce from his wife, he could put all his attention back to golfing, if not the story might be different. It is still my guess Tiger will be back in time for the first major, the Masters in Augusta. Tiger’s fire to beat the record of Jack Nicklaus should still be burning. If having put behind his private matters, don’t be surprised when Tiger gets away with another major this year. And the dark horses? Look for the young guns Martin Kaymer and Rory Mcilroy.

4. Sailing, the Americas Cup. After a long and ridiculous legal battle off the water, the 33rd Americas Cup now looks set to take place in Valencia mid February. Sailing should take place on the water and not in the court room. With recent emphasis having been taken away from sailing, I doubt whether this has been doing any good to the sports and to the brand value of its main sponsors BMW and Oracle as well as the ones of Alinghi. It is to hope that clear rules will be set for the 34th Cup. In any case hopefully attention will turn back to sailing in mid February. That is to say if BMW Oracle’s latest claim of Alinghi’s sails not been made in Switzerland (the rules require that the boat and all equipment be built entirely in the country represented) will hold. If the claim will be awarded, we will see further delays. If not, sailing should go ahead and in that case I opt for Alinghi, which should have had more testing time on the water.

5. Tennis, Roger and Kim once more. Of the three Gillette triplets only Roger Federer still stands firm, Tiger Woods and to some extent Thierry Henry (after his hand ball in the all important France Ireland match) have fallen from grace. I cannot believe Roger will fall into the same kind of trap. On the contrary, he should continue gaining further support and winning several grandslams once again. I doubt Nadal will get back to his old performance level and if he does, how long his knees will hold. Del Potro is probably the guy to watch. For the women it should become more interesting again now that Kim is back. Clijsters veni vidi vici in the US Open should see further confirmation in 2010, which should be a welcome change after the reign of the Williams sisters.

6. Motor racing; Formula 1, Schumi is back! A blessing for Formula 1, that’s how one can summarize the come-back of 7x world champion Michael Schumacher. Over the last few years the popularity of Formula 1 has clearly come down, as fans no longer felt sufficiently connected to the sports, due to the combination of a lack of charismatic drivers, several scandals (crashgate) and the economic downturn. With Schumacher being back and several new racing teams on the grid, Formula 1 should bounce back. It should be an interesting season. Will McLaren and Ferrari be able to return to the front and head-up to Mercedes? In any case, it should be fun to see Schumacher fight with the new generation drivers such as Hamilton and Alonso. My pick for the 2010 season: Hamilton!

7. Cycling Tour de France; Contador for third time in a row. Who can beat Alberto Contador in 2010? Despite his great comeback in 2009, I do not expect Armstrong can pull it off. Despite gathering a very strong team around him this year with many of the old teammates of Contador, the years start to count, whereas Contador looks stronger every year. On the other hand never say never; I wouldn’t be surprised when Armstrong would have a few more tricks up his sleeve! Elsewhere Schleck, Valverde, Evans and Wiggins should fall short again, whilst it probably is still a bit early for Dutch condor Robert Gesink. So few dark horses in a Tour de France which hopefully will lack any doping scandals.

8. World Championships Football 2010. In summer the spotlights of the world will be on South Africa, the first African country to host one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the World Championships Football What to expect? Italy should be unable to retain the worldcup after the recent mediocre performances of the national team as well as that of the club-teams. Spain, the reigning European champions is the country to watch with some fantastic individual players. Spain’s track record in the Worldcup has been dramatic, but winning the European championships should have put an end to that spell. Nevertheless, it won’t come easy and particularly England could spoil the party, they should be seen as Spain’s main threat, certainly with the current confidence of the lads, it could finally be their time again. The dark horses? Brazil, Holland and as always Germany. Topscorer? Look for David Villa

9. Swimming, back to basics again! No major championships this year, but what will make the sports interesting is the absence of high tech swimsuits. Technique will become more important again at the expense of pure muscle power. So it should be! It probably means there will be new names to watch! And of course some names will remain the same; Michael Phelps will continue to be a class on his own. So swimming will be swimming again with one exception; the number of new world records should be limited……

10. Basketball, will it be the Lakers again? Who dares to bet against Bryant and company? Not many, in most polls the Lakers are leading by a mile. Nevertheless, the Cavaleers proved during Christmas that the Lakers are far from unbeatable. With King James assisted by a determined Shaq doing his last few tricks, don’t be surprised when the Cavs pull it off!

tiger.alex2010 is nearing the end and hence lists of names are popping-up everywhere summarizing the greatest moments, sportsmen, sportswomen etc. Clearly we are not staying behind and add our own list. As 2010 has seen many confessions of big (former) stars, we briefly stand still to look at the 10 biggest confessions in sports in 2010.

When analyzing the confessions one can recognize broadly three categories; sex related confessions, drugs related confessions and confessions related to malpractices in the sport. Clearly all three have either a direct or indirect effect on the performance of an athlete, a club or a sport. However, there is simultaneously also a huge difference between the 3. Sexually related escapades have nothing to do with breaking the rules of a sport. What someone is doing in his private life is his/her choice. However, being role models to society, moral judgement is likely severe and hence there is a clear indirect impact on performance. As far as honesty is concerned, drugs related fouls are much worse, as they are directly impacting the performance of an athlete. Hence there is no longer a level playing field, on the contrary often one can speak of unfair competition. In spite of this we have listed the confessions according to the (of course arbitrary) impact they have on either society or the sports.

Biggest confessions of 2009:

1.Tiger Woods: Tiger confessed he has been unfaithful to his wife having had several affairs with other women. Clearly Tiger is not breaking any golf-related rules, but the noise it has created and the impact Tiger has on the sport of golf and sports in general, make him the clear number one of the list.

2.Gareth Thomas: Gareth Thomas, a British sports legend and international rugby star, announced he is gay. In the male chauvinistic rugby world this is a brave and huge step forward. Sports should have nothing to do with sexuality, yet there are still some bastions left like soccer and rugby. It is to hope that Thomas’ confessions will lead to a breakthrough although we have our doubts whether this will be the case.

3. Nelson Piquet: better known under the name crashgate, this has been one of the major offences in sports history. Nelson Piquet was asked by team leaders Briatore and Symonds, to deliberately crash his formula 1 car in order to help the team. With this “strategy”, security for Nelson himself, the other drivers and the spectators, was severely endangered. Moreover, the credibility of Formula One was severely dented. In the mean time Briatore and Symonds have been banned from the sports, whilst it is doubtful whether Piquet will ever return to Formula One.

4. Marcel Schuon: Schuon is the first soccer player who has come forward in the match-rigging scandal now coursing through European soccer to talk publicly about a deal to fix a game. Since his confession, police have raided addresses across Europe, smashing what they believe is a 200-strong band bribing players, referees and coaches in at least nine countries to influence matches that they would then bet huge sums on. Although bets did not take place on matches in the major leagues, it does put a dent into European soccer.

5. Johan Museeuw: in the beginning of 2009 the great cyclist Johan Museeuw confessed he used doping at the end of his career. Like so many others he used the performance enhancing EPO. This once again was a blow to cycling, which frantically tries to get clean. Slowly the sport manages to get a better grip on doping, but each year there are still those that are discrediting the sport and are willing to risk suspension. Asterloza and Di Luca were just 2 of the more well-known cyclists, who were caught this year. Johan Museeuw’s confession should not only resemble himself but also all those others who used performance enhancing drugs.

6. Andre Agassi: Agassi confessed he tested positive for the highly addictive drug, crystal methamphetamine, and then duped the Association of Tennis Professionals into believing he had taken it by accident. Although the drug is said to be a recreational one and not performance enhancing, it was forbidden. Agassi lied about it and is bailing himself out of it by writing a book. Nevertheless, he still is connected to the sports of tennis, which sadly doesn’t help the image of tennis, ironically a sport he once hated.

7. Rick Pitino: the famous Louisville basketball coach confessed he had sex and paid for an abortion for the woman accused of trying to extort him for USD 10mln. Being a catholic, Pitino’s reputation got a severe dent. In spite of an integrity clause (which includes dishonesty and moral depravity as grounds for firing) in his contract Louisville retained his services.

8. Alex Rodriguez: days after Sports Illustrated reported he tested positive for steroids in 2003, A-Rod, ex toyboy of Madonna, confessed that he used banned substance while he played for Texas Rangers between 2001 – 2003. As widely known, he was not the only one during that era, who used performance enhancing drugs. Nevertheless it was a sad moment for baseball that one of America’s favourite role-models took part in it. It’s good to see Major League Basseball seems to finally taking this problem seriously.

9. Yuri van Gelder: one of the world’s top gymnasts, “lord of the rings” Yuri van Gelder confessed he had regularly used cocaine for recreational purposes. Following his confession, the gymnast got suspended and was fired by his employer, the Dutch army, which had a zero tolerance policy. Van Gelder is in rehab and hopes to return to gymnastics.

10. Christoph Daum: Christoph Daum, coach of the Turkisch football club Fenerbace confirmed 4 of his players took part in sex marathons in a hotel in Istanbul. Whether the 4 players can stay with Fenerbace is yet unknown. Clearly one can say it is none of our business what sport stars are doing in their private life. Fact of the matter remains that stars are always in the spotlight and are representing their club. It is the price one pays for being a celebrity and role-model. In the end such publicity can affect the relationships in the locker room and hence the club and its fans.

Surely there were plenty more confessions. Come to think of it, Michael Phelps and his waterpipe! We deliberately did not put him in the list. Phelps was suspended from competition for three months by USA swimming but this was not for violating anti-doping rules as it was outside competition. It was merely to send out a strong message to Michael for disappointing so many. As Phelps did not violate any anti-doping rules we decided to keep him out. Arbitrary of course, but then again the entire list is……….

woodsOver the last few days most of Tiger Woods’ sponsors have published press releases on their future relationship with him. Gillette and Accenture have dropped him, whilst Tag Heuer and Nike continue their support for the time being. Critics have been quick to criticize particularly Gillette and Accenture claiming that Tiger’s private matters should have nothing to do with his performance levels on the golf course. Who are we to morally disqualify him (or anybody else). True but not relevant! They are missing the point. These companies have always supported Tiger, as his values seemed to match with the values of their own. As this seems no longer the case, their decision is logical.

When looking at Tiger’s brand identity, Tiger has always come across as Mr Clean; a family man and a person that is always showing great dignity and integrity on and off the pitch. Tiger’s values could possibly be summarized as loyal, trustworthy, integer, reliable, focused. Most of these values probably still stand but integrity and reliability can be crossed off the list I believe. Surely one is allowed a mistake but not one of such significance, particularly given his emphasis on virtues of being humble and honest. Stardom comes at a price I am afraid and Tiger’s authenticity and credibility have been severely dented here.

Now let’s go back to the sponsors. It is to appreciate that Nike, EA Sports and TAG Heuer will continue to support Tiger, “the athlete”, at least for the time being. However, it has to be said that it is much easier for them than for example for Accenture, Gillette and possibly AT&T. Why? The core values of the likes as Nike, EA Sports and Tag Heuer do not conflict with Tiger’s actions, whereas this is the case for the other 3.
Although Nike does not specifically state its core values, its mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. As Tiger as a golfplayer still is inspiring many, this does not really conflict with Tiger’s actions so far. Hence Nike can permit itself a sit and wait strategy, also taking into account that Tiger is commercially tremendously important to Nike. For TAG Heuer things are not that different. TAG’s core values are excellence, performance and exceptional achievement, all values still applicable to Tiger as a top athlete.

Now let’s look at the core values of Accenture and Gillette, who seem both to have more broadly defined core values. Those of Accenture are client value creation, one global network, integrity, stewardship, best people and respect for the individual. Tiger’s actions particularly conflict with integrity and respect for the individual. Additionally Accenture’s commercial “we know what it takes to be a Tiger” does not help in this respect. Gillette’s core values are achievement, integrity and collaboration. Again Tiger’s actions conflict with integrity, as did the recent action of Thierry Henry by the way (both feature in the same commercial). In any case you can barely condemn these companies for acting in accordance with their core values or better said, their DNA. They have “to practice what they preach”, “walk the talk” so to say. If not, they can barely be taken seriously, which particularly is the case for Accenture, which sometimes advises clients on these matters. In this perspective I would not be surprised if AT&T would do the same as Accenture and Gillette. Clearly, the actions of these sponsors do not condemn Tiger as an athlete, no one disputes his greatness in this perspective. What it does tell is how companies connect with sportspeople representing their brand identity and that all of them seem to have acted in accordance with what they stand for. Tiger has lost his authenticity and integrity off the course, which is coming at a large price and may take years (if ever) to repair.

minoprioThis weekend Adam Minoprio and his ETNZ/Blackmatch Racing crew were crowned as the new world champions of the ISAF World Match Racing Championships series, winning the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, the last race of the circuit. The finals were telecasted live and clearly demonstrated that matchracing is fun to watch and very suitable for television in contrast with for example fleet racing. With modern on board coverage and back-up graphic tools, the viewer is enjoying a live-man-to-man yachting experience. Adding the fact that match racing in the WMRC format should be attractive for sponsors spectators and cities and taking into account the growth of the sports, I believe match racing has a great future ahead.

Matchracing, skill, tactics and savvy required! A match race can be described as a duel between two identically-matched boats with a winner – and a loser. Match racing has its own set of rules, which are slightly different from the regular racing rules that create very close, aggressive competition. It also has on-the-water judging, with umpires doling out “instant justice” on the water. Match racing is tremendously exciting to participate in. And, unlike watching other sailing competitions, match racing can be thrilling to watch. Before the start, the boats vie for control, circling each other and trying to wipe each other off on spectator boats in an elaborate game of cat and mouse. After the start the boats will sail to an upwind mark, round it, hoist the spinnaker and sail to the downwind mark. The boats will round the marks 2-3 times before the winner crosses the finish line. Unlike fleet racing you have only one opponent; hence tactics are quite different and there are plenty of different ways to win a race.

Fun to watch both on television and ashore, enjoy the experience! The format chosen by the World Match Racing Tour is one made for both television and live spectators. A race is relatively short and last around 20 minutes and is packed with action. As the course is short and can be set close ashore, spectators have a perfect view on what is happening. Races are short, fun, fast and furious. Additionally Match Racing is also ideally suited for television. I was commentating the semi finals and finals of the Monsoon Cup this weekend and felt part of the experience, it’s fantastic, it is as if you are participating in the race. There is a bow cam, a mast cam and a cameraman on-board. This does not only result in spectacular views, it also gives better insight in what tactical choices are being made (you can overhear the conversation between skipper and tactician). If there is a collision (and they happen quite frequently), you see it happening with your own eyes and hear the cursing on-board, you are part of the crew. Apart from this, computer graphical software provide you instant information on distances towards the mark, boat speed, laylines etc. Unlike fleet racing, this makes it much easier to see who has the advantage. After a race there is an immediate interview with the skipper, who explains what has happened. Concluding, you barely have time to breathe and it is far better than the coverage of the last America’s Cup. I am sure this is the way how sailing will be televised in the future.

Match Racing should enjoy further growth in the future. Match Racing appears to become slowly more popular over time, but growth should actually accelerate. Firstly, in the current format the sport seems to become more attractive to the public, which should give it a boost. Secondly Match Racing will become Olympic in 2012 for women only but men may follow later. Thirdly, colleges in the US now will finally switch towards match racing and as America is lagging behind Europe, this could be a catalyst for further growth. Fourthly, the attention for Match Racing should also increase as the world’s top yachtsmen are actually participating. There are few opportunities where you see top-notch skippers such as 3x Olympic Gold Winner Ben Ainslee and Peter Gilmour fighting against each other. Moreover Match Racing has always been recognized as the source of America’s Cup sailing talent

Match Racing should be attractive to all user groups. Match Racing has all the ingredients to become more popular. For spectators and television audience the sports is attractive and with the right investments can be put to the next level. For sailors Match Racing is an ideal opportunity to show their skills, whilst offering an opportunity to develop their sports and earning decent money with it. For sponsors, match racing offers a wide array of opportunities. Sponsoring of teams (Emirates Team New Zealand, Team Origin are just a few examples) could easily be leveraged, whilst the events offer great on-site opportunities for client entertainment. Moreover, it also offers a good platform for city marketing, as the sport lends itself ideally for in-port racing and should be significantly less expensive than for example hosting a stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race

If taken to the next level…..The product can clearly be further enhanced and will require further investments. If done properly, it could become a mainstream event and hence should result in very decent returns. Peter Gilmour (who is one of the investors in the WMRT) recently stated that he believes the Americas Cup is a good example; “in 1983 it was just a small regatta off Newport, Rhode Island and it grew to a point that it charged tens of millions of dollars for television rights, sponsorship and so forth in 2007 in Valencia. Nobody would have believed that 25 years ago and I think it just needs a little bit of that same style of thinking. This is the second level down, the second main event of match racing in the world and certainly has a great opportunity to grow and expand itself”. As a start the organisation will extend the number of races in the coming few years. I would not be surprised seeing the sport taking off during these years.

Manchester_United_Premier_League_Champions_20_863950 It is still early days in the different European football competitions. In most cases we are not even halfway yet. Nevertheless speculating in the different countries on who will become the league champion has already started again. In most leagues the usual suspects are being mentioned, no surprise really….However, in some leagues there seem to be some new kids on the block. Whether it is FC Twente in The Netherlands, Sporting Braga in Portugal, Odense in Denmark or Bayern Leverkusen in Germany, all are relatively new to the art of winning their league, but all these teams are currently in the lead. The odds (as we will see) are against and I’ll bet you that in the end quite a few of these exotics will not realize their dream, at least not during this season.

Competitive balance in Europe appears to be far away. It seems to be a fairytale that leagues in the different European countries are highly competitive, they are not. Ask someone who will become champion in Spain? Nine out of ten will answer Real Madrid or Barcelona. So they should, as during the last 25 years the two of them won the national times 21 times out of 25. It can even be worse; Celtic and Rangers in Scotland have won 24 out of the last 25 times. In most leagues it is not significantly different. Clearly there is competition within the league but predictability on who will become champion is relatively large

  Number of times being league winner         Clubs having won
Country Best club 2nd best club Third best club Top 1 Top 2 Top 3 the league
Austria Austria Wien: 8x Rapid Wien: 5x Salzburg: 5x 32% 52% 72% 7
Belgium Anderlecht: 12x Brugge: 7x Genk: 2x, Standard: 2xx 48% 76% 84% 5
Denmark Brondby: 10x Kopenhagen: 7x Aalborg 3x 40% 68% 80% 8
England Manch. United: 11x Arsenal: 5x Liverpool: 3x 44% 64% 76% 7
France Lyon: 7x Olympique Mars: 5x Bordeaux: 4x 28% 48% 64% 8
Germany Bayen Munich: 14x Dortmund: 3x Werder Bremen: 3x 56% 68% 80% 6
Greece Olympiakos: 13x Panathinaikos: 6x AEK: 4x 52% 76% 92% 5
Iceland Akranes: 6x Reykjavik: 5x Hafnarfjordur 5x 24% 44% 64% 8
Italy AC Milan: 8x Juventus: 6x Inter Milan: 5x 32% 56% 76% 8
Holland PSV: 14x Ajax: 8x Feyenoord: 2x 56% 88% 96% 4
Norway Rozenborg: 18x Lillestrom: 2x 5 diff. teams each 1x 72% 80% 84% 7
Portugal Porto: 17x Benfica: 5x SC Portugal: 2x 68% 88% 96% 4
Scotland Rangers: 15x Celtic: 9x Aberdeen: 1x 60% 96% 100% 3
Spain Real Madrid: 11x Barcelona: 10x Valencia 2x 44% 84% 92% 5
Sweden Goteburg: 8x AIK: 3x Malmo 3x; Djurgard. 3x 32% 44% 56% 11
Switzerland Grasshoppers: 7x Basel: 4x Zurich: 3x; Servette: 3x 28% 44% 56% 10
Turkey Galatasaray: 11x Fenerbace: 7x Besiktas: 7x 44% 72% 100% 3
Average   45% 68% 80% 6.4

The table above summarizes how many times the best clubs have won their leagues during the last 25 years. One can see that Rosenborg from Norway is record holder in Europe: it has won the national title 18 times out of 25, closely followed by Porto, who won 17 times and Rangers, who won 15 times. The percentage columns tell it all; they are telling us on how many occasions during the last 25 years, the best 3 clubs in a certain country have seized the championship. So in Turkey and Scotland, things are really predictable. You are a pretty brave rascal if you are going to bet against either Galatasaray, Fenerbace or Besiktas of winning the league in Turkey. Besides these countries Portugal, Holland and Greece also score high on the predictability ladder. This is to say when looking at history and that is where the fun comes in. History is by no means a guarantee to the future as last year’s Dutch league winners AZ Alkmaar blatantly proved. AZ was the first league winner in 25 years outside the traditional top 3, PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord. Nevertheless, averaging the different European leagues, one can conclude that in about 80% of all cases, it is one of the traditional top 3 teams, which becomes league champion.

So which countries are giving us the biggest headaches upfront? Surely Sweden and Switzerland, where there have been 11 and 10 league winners respectively during the last 25 years. It is clearly difficult to predict the winners here, which must be fun. Hence in these smaller leagues competition seems to be more balanced. Let us briefly compare with American Football’s NFL. Looking over a period of 25 years, there have been 13 different winners, whilst the 3 best teams won the superbowl only 10 out of 25 times or 40%. The World Series Baseball even was won by 17 different teams over the last 25 years. Talking about competitive balance……. The reasons behind? I would not be surprised if it has anything to do with a phenomenon called salary cap……Food for thought I believe.

In the mean time, will the new kids on the block such as Twente, Braga, Odense and Leverkusen win their leagues this year? Never say never, but the odds are against. Do not forget they have not been in this position before; the closer one gets, the more difficult it becomes. Fighting for a national title will result in a different kind of pressure new to most of these teams. Surely there will be a surprise package somewhere, but I doubt whether all four of them will have this fortune.

Unfortunately justice, fair play and integrity have been the big losers during and following the recent France Ireland match in which the latter was robbed from participating in the World Cup in South Africa after Thierry Henry’s controversial handball. Undoubtedly the call for electronic (video) aids will re-vive again and surely pressure on the almighty and isolated FIFA to implement such devices will once more increase. It is to hope that this injustice will indeed turn into a catalyst for change, sadly at the expense of the Irish.

It had to happen sooner or later…..qualification for the Worldcup at stake and a wrong and unfair decision in extra time, as a result of which the cheating party turns out to be the winner. However, we have to realize that unfair decisions happen all the time. Each and every weekend there are wrong decisions made by referees, who are just human. As a consequence each time there are teams treated unfairly. Clearly in the France Ireland game things have been magnified as it was such an all-important game. There have been precedents; who does not remember the hand of “God Maradona”, but this was in an era in which electronic aids were not an issue yet.

France Ireland proves electronic aids should be implemented rather sooner than later. Let’s examine the reasons why….
1. Modern football has changed: football nowadays has become much quicker and more physical. It has become increasingly difficult for referees to notice everything
2. Football has become big business: football has become ever more important in our society. At top level huge amounts of money are at stake and world cup participation even stimulates the local economy. An unfair decision can literally costs loads of money.
3. Fairness of the game: football players are nowadays often role models for kids. Integrity, fairplay and justice hence should be important values of the game and the players participating in it. Inconsistency with these values is not the message you want to send to young adults. If cheating is rewarded, these values are meaningless.

Hence it is time that FIFA is wakening up. So far it has shown it is disconnected with the real world. FIFA claims that a decision made by a referee cannot be overturned again after a match. But what about players making a serious foul during a match unnoticed by the referee? If registered on camera, they often will get suspended anyway. So FIFA seems to be inconsistent to some extent. Why not introducing electronic aids during a game? Trainers, managers, football players, referees, icons and clubs, all have been arguing for this, but Blatter and friends remain sham deaf so far. Let us briefly stand still by the core values of FIFA:
Authenticity. Football must remain a simple, beautiful game played by, enjoyed by and touching the lives of all people far and wide. Indeed football is touching the lives of many, if it wants to come across as authentic it should at least be played according to the rules. This pleads for electronic aids, at least at the porfessional level (which is acting as billboard)
Unity. It is FIFA´s responsibility to foster unity within the football world and to use football to promote solidarity, regardless of gender, ethnic background, faith or culture. Unity and solidarity are far from being realised with decisions such as the one in the France Ireland match.
Performance. FIFA must strive to deliver football of the highest quality and as the best possible experience, be it as a player, as a spectacle, or as a major cultural and social enabler throughout the world. Again this value speaks against the recent controversy. This barely can be seen as high quality and being a social enabler in the world.
Integrity. FIFA believes that, just as the game itself, it must be a model of fair play, tolerance, sportsmanship and transparency. No comments needed on this one I believe.

In any case it is about time that the dinosaurusses of FIFA leave their ivory tower mentality behind and starts talking with its stakeholders. Rugby, tennis and several other sports are proving electronic aids are functioning properly and improve fairness. It is to hope that the France Ireland match is a catalyst for implementing these aids, sadly too late for the Irish.See poll

See article in Telegraaf

The Netherlands has the intention to bid for the 2028 Olympics. One of the most difficult issues related to acquiring the Olympic Games will be the support of the population of The Netherlands. The International Olympic Committee regards widespread support as a very important element in awarding the games to one of the bidding cities. A recent poll showed that around 50% of the Dutch population would support a bid. So in this perspective a lot has to be done, particularly as the Dutch always appear to be very critical as soon as large expenditures are in play. Simultaneously often cynicism is shown whether The Netherlands will be able to organize such a big high profile event. Finally, as 1992 has blatantly shown, minorities can play a very big role in steering the public opinion. Hence it will be very important to have a targeted PR/communication campaign aimed at gathering widespread support of the Dutch population for the Olympic bid. I will briefly outline my view on how this can be organized.

If we want to sell the Olympic Games, we want to accomplish that consumers (or in this case the Dutch population) will embrace the games and identify themselves with it. Hence focus should be on honesty, equality and fraternity, the values of the game. If these values are sold properly through effective communications, it should be possible to grow support.

In order to permanently influence the HEART, SOUL AND MIND of the Dutch population we would design a campaign along the following main issues.

1. Create awareness and transparency on “potential issues”
No doubt a lot of criticism and issues will come forward aimed at why we should not organize the Olympic Games. In order to deal with these issues it will be required that there be full transparency and awareness on these issues. If these are put in the open, an adequate quick reaction should be given immediately, hopefully taking away the ground for the opponents or at least shortening the span of attention. In this perspective it will be extremely important that fulltime communication professionals, who are actively involved in the day to day organization related to the bid, will deal with this in a proper way. In fact it may even be recommendable to come up with potential issues by the organization itself, as this would show a sign of strength.

2. Show the benefits of organizing the Olympic Games in 2028
One of the main arguments of opponents not to organize the Games is related to the benefits of the Games, “what’s in it for me or more specifically for my region/city”. From the beginning onwards it will therefore be important to focus on the benefits for The Netherlands rather than only the ones for Amsterdam or Rotterdam (the two cities which are volunteering). This should not be too difficult as the Games should be seen as a nation wide initiative, however being hosted by one city. We believe the main benefits that can be emphasized are the following ones:

i. Infrastructure: Hosting the Games will fast track key capital projects, especially transportation related initiatives. This should be seen as a big advantage as traffic and transportation currently are seen as major problems in the Netherlands, pestering economic growth. With all regions in The Netherlands likely to be involved, it will imply major investments in possibly public transportation are to be undertaken to solve these problems. It possibly means that regions like Limburg and the northern part of The Netherlands will get better access. This had to be done sooner or later anyway (so incremental costs are likely to be minimal), but the Games might clearly speed up the process, shortening decision times.

ii. Legacy: hosting the Games will imply that The Netherlands and Amsterdam have to upgrade their sports facilities. New venues will allow The Netherlands not only to increase active and passive participation, but also to host major events, which should improve the reputation of The Netherlands as a sporting nation. Additionally the Olympic Village will provide an excellent opportunity to build a new neighborhood or revitalize a neighborhood, which will provide future housing opportunities.

iii. Education: in order to stand a chance to obtain the 2028 Olympics, The Netherlands has to show it is a sporting nation and that it will be able to realize a top 10 position in the medal count. 2028 implies that the participants will be the children of today. This means that our education should become more exposed to sports. It is unimaginable that children do not receive gymnastics lessons etc. Olympic Games will imply that the standards will be raised and children will become more actively involved, not only through school, but also by getting easier access to sports clubs etc. This in turn might result in a healthier life style and less obesity, which should save future health related costs. Moreover, sports tend to unite people and children in particular; it means social cohesion between different parts of the population can be enhanced. Additionally the exposure to the Olympic movement will provide a great educational tool for geography, culture, history etc. The creation of sports related programs should result in children being more exposed to sports

iv. Economic benefits: it is clear that the Games should bring economic benefits before, during and after the Games. The construction of new venues and infrastructure will mean new jobs, whilst being a host city might attract domestic and international companies to open new offices, which in turn will create more jobs. The Games itself will attract a stream of incremental tourists, who will stay in hotels, eat and drink etc, creating additional turnover and jobs. Moreover, the Netherlands as a whole will get a boost from hosting the Games, again possibly resulting in more tourists and business activity after the Games. According to Jacques Rogge studies have shown that the GDP of a country hosting the Olympics rises by 1-1.5% every year during 6 years and that the sustainable incremental employment amounts to 60,000. With the exception of Atlanta and Montreal, all Olympic host countries have benefited from the organization of the Olympics, having realized both substantial profitability as well as sustainable growth.

v.Raising international reputation: the Games would offer both Amsterdam and The Netherlands a unique opportunity to present themselves to the world. Newspapers, TV stations, magazines, guests etc will be confronted with our country, which should offer a unique opportunity to raise our reputation/image and take away misperceptions

vi. Enjoy the experience: clearly the build up to the games, the experience of the Games and the aftermath is a unique once in a lifetime experience, which should be truly enjoyed. The Dutch population will have the chance to enjoy elite athletes in its own backyard and to experience the values that make the Games irreplaceable; fairplay, friendship, hope, inspiration, joy etc. Moreover beyond sport the Games will bring great cultural events to the city to be enjoyed by everyone.

Many people are still under the impression the Games will be costly for the nation. It should be made clear over and over again that this should not necessarily be the case. There is a difference between investments (which will require funding and returns) and profitability. Clearly huge upfront investments have to be made, but if managed properly the rewards may be substantial. Important in the communication should be that many of the investments will have to be made anyway (with or without the Games) such as infrastructural and housing investments. Moreover, increasingly there are new ways to finance these investments, which not necessarily have to be made by the government but can be done in cooperation with the private sector through for example PFI initiatives.

3. Create cohesiveness, unity feeling and national pride
The Games should also provide the opportunity to bring greater cohesion between different parts of the population. The values of sports such as cooperation, participation, fairplay and fun have to be forwarded to everyone, which might improve social cohesion if done properly. This could lead to an increased sense of togetherness and national pride. On the one hand this can be done by organizing all kind of (Olympic) activities for the youth, as they are the important consumers during the games. On the other hand this can be realized by attracting big events (such as the world championships) to The Netherlands, which should enhance the feeling that we indeed can organize such events, creating pride. Moreover as sports would play a more important role in society, quality of result should improve, again creating enthusiasm and the necessary top 10 place in the medal count.

4. Create cooperation between government, municipalities, sport and corporate worldIf indeed the HEART and MIND of the Dutch population should be permanently influenced, it will be extremely important that the same message is communicated by everybody. This is likely to be the biggest challenge, but has to be done. Government, municipalities, the sport and the corporate world all have to speak the same language and agree on how to organize the games. Rules of the road have to be defined at an early stage and more importantly all parties have to “walk the talk”. This will mean that all parties will have to give in to some extent. Only if this can be realized (we should start now) the message is broadly carried. If agreements can not be made at these levels, how will it then be possible to convince the people?

5. Create opportunities for Olympic communities on all levels within The Netherlands
– create attachment and active participation, use micromarketing. Obama has shown a targeted individual approach can do the trick. The current information age offers plenty of opportunities to influence people. We believe that the marketing of the Olympic Games should take place on an individual level. Different people have different questions and appetites, but all of them want to be taken seriously. Micromarketing and targeting could be a very effective tool. Individualized E-mails to the population should not only make people enthusiastic for the Games, they also should unveil where there are hurdles to be taken.

– Interactive (Olympic) websites with polls etc, interactive games (where participants create their own games) should also provide insight in what people occupies. Moreover, these platforms can serve as idea creators as well. It will be important that people will feel part of the Olympic movement and identify themselves being future hosts. We believe an individual approach could help in creating enthusiasm.

– Simultaneously we would advise a network approach. Increasingly our society consists of social networks, which all could be used to market the Olympic Games. It means that children can find blogs and info on specific children sites (or get specific info from sportspeople), seniors on senior sites or football players on football sites. Again problems should be unveiled at an early stage, whilst simultaneously attachment and familiarity can be created. If this is being done in a proper way, this could be the most powerful tool in creating Heart and Mind for the games.

6. Appoint figureheads, ambassadors who promote the games
We believe also that there should be specific ambassadors who will promote the games. These should be Dutch sports icons that have been Olympic champions and that appeal to most people. In this perspective we think of people like Pieter van de Hoogenband, Sven Kramer etc. These champions could also play an important international role in this perspective. Additionally we would also favor to have figureheads per sports, which can promote the Olympics within their own sport, particularly amongst children. It means for example that leading judo stars promote the Olympics to practicing young judokas.

If done properly by communication professionals, I feel that support for hosting the Olympics in The Netherlands might increase over the years. By simultaneously running a very good lobby with the IOC (by the right people), I feel the chance of hosting the Games should increase