Financial Integrity and Transparency in Sport (FITS) initiative reveals preliminary data as FITS Forum begins

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Annual revenues from global soccer industry estimated to be worth US$33bn.

World leaders in sport, finance and governance unite at FITS Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, to call for financial integrity and transparency in sport.

Following the conclusion of another remarkable soccer players’ transfer window, the pioneering Financial Integrity and Transparency in Sport (FITS) project – an initiative of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) – has revealed new financial figures on the size of the global sport market.

Unveiled at the FITS Forum in Geneva, held on September 3-4, the preliminary data from the FITS Global Project shows that the annual global revenues from spectator sports are an estimated US$80bn, with soccer generating approximately US$33bn of this per year.

The preliminary figures, which have been developed by an international network of leading academics led by Professor Matt Andrews, professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, Massachusetts, USA, indicate that soccer generates more income than all four major US sports combined (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) and is equivalent to the size of the US film industry. It is the single biggest driver of income within both the European and global sport market.

In the face of this huge commercial and economic growth, there is a clear need for better coordination and collaboration between different sectors, including governments, law enforcement agencies, corporations and sport governing bodies, to help strengthen existing financial and governance structures and protect sport from money laundering, tax evasion and other threats to its financial integrity.

Initiated by the ICSS in November 2014, the wide-ranging FITS project seeks to address these mounting challenges by providing a holistic, fact-based analysis of the existing issues facing sport, as well as developing globally recognized standards to be implemented by sport, governments and other relevant international institutions.

Speaking about the data at the FITS Forum, Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of ICSS Europe and Latin America, said, “With yet another remarkable transfer window this week, the preliminary data revealed by the FITS project underlines the huge wealth that sport, particularly soccer, now generates and the enormous influence it has over all areas of our society and economy.

“We must protect sport’s vital role and reputation. Organizations from all sectors must come together to ensure the proper financial and governance mechanisms are implemented to ensure that sport remains clean from corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

“By bringing together key decision-makers and experts from a diverse range of industries, not just sport, the FITS Forum will provide an important stepping stone in the wider FITS Global Project, which hopes to create a blueprint for good governance and financial integrity in sport.”

Mohammed Hanzab, ICSS president, said, “Today’s FITS Forum is a watershed moment for sport as never before have we seen influential figures from such a diverse range of sectors come together to pool their collective knowledge and support financial integrity and transparency in sport.

“We cannot ignore the mounting threats and allow sport to continue its rapid growth unchecked. All industries need to work together to safeguard sport and ensure good governance and effective financial control is not just an aspiration but is a reality.”

The full results and recommendations of the FITS Project are due to be released early next year.

September 4, 2015

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