The 5th Leaders in Football conference was hailed a resounding success and the most international to date with international speakers flying in from all over the world to address the delegates and media in attendance. They discussed a range of topics that have remained high on the game’s agenda since, from integrity and governance, to simulation and on-field action, commercial strategy, broadcasting and of course preparations for the next World Cup. And it was the tournament’s leading ever goalscorer, Brazilian legend Ronaldo, who opened the conference.
Ronaldo led a FIFA and Brazil 2014 LOC delegation and, alongside FIFA’s marketing chief Thierry Weil, provided a timely insight into developments on the road to Brazil. They were shortly followed by the man at the head of the current holders of the trophy, Spanish Federation President Angel Villar Llona, who discussed what it takes to win the tournament, in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview.
The international theme continued with unique panels on Football in Asia, featuring FIFA Vice President and Crown Prince of Jordan, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, Football in Asia with an expert panel including Ronald de Boer, as well as an exclusive keynote interview with Andrea Agnelli of Juventus FC, the latest member of the Agnelli family to lead the Old Lady of Italian football. The European theme continued with a panel of top executives from AC Milan, Paris St Germain, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Of great interest to the various football club, league and federation CEO’s in the audience were the ideas that the American speakers brought with them. The second day started with an NFL panel highlighting the international expansion strategy of America’s favourite sport, with the league’s top marketer, Mark Waller, and Shahid Khan, the new owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars taking the stage. Major League Soccer also came in force, led by Commissioner Don Garber, and the owners of the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City, to shed light on the commercial strategy and model behind the league that is beginning to make major in-roads into perhaps the world’s toughest sports market.
Both days of the prestigious conference were closed with matters arising on the field with current players Michael Owen and David James, coaches Roberto Martinez and Paolo Di Canio, and the world’s most recognised referee, Pierluigi Collina, giving a fascinating insight into their views on the game of football.