China’s giant sports investments

China’s economic growth may have cooled down from its double digit rates of recent years but the country’s sports sector is powering ahead, both at home and abroad, with sports identified as a key area of economic development for the coming ten years. 

 

Investing at home

Beijing is set to invest USB 1.5bn in hosting the Olympic Games in 2022, but this is a tiny fraction of the total domestic investments into sport China is set to make over the next decade. 

China’s national plans for investing in sport are unprecedented.  According to the General Administration of Sports (GAS), the sector in China is set to expand to US$1tr by 2025 – more than the value of the entire global sports industry at present.

While this goal may sound unrealistic, recent figures support such a projection. The GAS says China's sports sector grew by US$55bn in 2012 to reach US$170bn in 2013. Official estimates suggest that China's sports sector will expand by US$62bn in 2015. And by 2020, the sports sector is expected to reach US$456bn.

To achieve this sustained growth in sports, the government has recently issued 50 documents setting out a series of measures, focusing on tax incentives, land security, specialized funds, technology and research and development. 

 

China outbound

It’s not just on home turf where China’s ambitions lie. With international reserves far outweighing any other nation, China is investing far and wide – and focusing on sports properties.

In a process dubbed “stadium diplomacy”, China has built and financed the construction of 37 venues in Africa, five in Asia (including Syria), eight in the Caribbean, six in the South Pacific and one in Central America (Costa Rica).

And over the last two years, Chinese investors and firms have bought into football clubs in England, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Republic. 

In December 2015 it was announced that a consortium of Chinese investors – CMC (China Media Capital) Holdings and CITIC Capital – was to acquire a 13 per cent stake in City Football Group (CFG)

CFG, the holding company of Manchester City, Melbourne City and New York City football clubs that is wholly owned by Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), is valued at approximately US$3bn. 

CMC Holdings and CITIC Capital’s investment of US$400m in City Football Group demonstrates just how highly China values the power of investing in football overseas. 

For football clubs, the opportunity of Chinese investment brings access into China’s rapidly growing sports sector. The Chinese market is a crucial target for global football brands to grow their fan base, not only because of the sheer size of the market but because of the growing interest in football there.

"The deal will create an unprecedented platform for the growth of CFG clubs and companies in China and internationally, borne out of CFG's ability to provide a wealth of industry expertise and resources to the rapidly developing Chinese football industry,” Manchester City said in a statement.

"The capital from the share acquisition will be used by City Football Group to fund its China growth, further CFG international business expansion opportunities and further develop CFG infrastructure assets."

China Media Capital, a public equity and venture capital firm investing in sectors including culture, technology, media and entertainment, also secured the US$1.3bn broadcast rights for the Chinese football league in 2014.

 

World Cup hosting hopes

It’s not just state-owned investors that are capitalising on the global football industry – Chinese private enterprises are also getting in on the act. 

Since 2012, Huawei has signed sponsorship agreements with Spain’s Professional Football League (LFP) and club side Atlético Madrid, the Russian national soccer team, German clubs Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04, Premier League side Arsenal FC, French champions Paris Saint-Germain and Dutch Eredivisie giants Ajax, among others.

And in December 2015, FIFA announced China’s Alibaba E-Auto as sponsor of the FIFA Club World Cup – the first new sponsor signed by FIFA in two years. 

"We are delighted to welcome Alibaba E-Auto as Presenting Partner of the FIFA Club World Cup and are excited to be working closely with them to embark on a journey to reach fans across the world,” said FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil. 

“We also hope to benefit from their innovation, and are looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the FIFA Club World Cup over the next eight years.”

The “internet car” brand is owned by Alibaba Group and operated with Shanghai Automotive Industry Cooperation (SAIC).

Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group CEO said: “Sports is at the intersection of Alibaba Group’s strategic themes of health and happiness, and we look forward to adding new value for participants and consumers in the sports sector through data-driven Internet technology. 

“Partnering with a major sporting event with a global audience such as FIFA Club World Cup is also an important part of Alibaba Group’s globalisation strategy for connecting China to the world.”

The partnership is also seen as a means of increase China’s stature within FIFA. 

China is not yet a major force when it comes to playing football. The country has only qualified for the FIFA World Cup once, in 2002, and it currently sits at 84th position in the world ranking. 

But it is hoped that all this investment into sports will help raise the standard of the game in China. And while the country isn’t yet among the best at playing the game, it certainly has a strong track record of hosting major events and a bid to host the World Cup would be welcomed by FIFA.

The host of the 2026 World Cup is due to be elected at the FIFA Congress in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017. For the first time, all FIFA’s 209 member associations will have a vote, instead of just the Executive Committee members. 

The bidding process has not officially begun and bids are unlikely to be announced until the dust begins to settle on FIFA’s process of transition. 

FIFA dropped its policy of continental rotation in the bidding phase for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and the organisation decided not to vote on reintroducing the policy at its Congress in 2015. 

If the policy were to be reintroduced, China would be out of the picture until 2030 – assuming Qatar retains its right to host the 2022 World Cup. 

But as things stand, a bid from China for the 2026 World Cup is possible and would be strong competition to a bid from the USA. With the coming years set to be a time of renewal for FIFA, taking its flagship event into the world’s largest growth area would no doubt be an appealing prospect for the world’s football leaders. 

This article first appeared in the Winter issue of Host City magazine. Register here.

Exclusive: IOC VP Sir Craig Reedie on realising Agenda 2020 and clean sport

Sir Craig Reedie addressing Host City delegates at the Glasgow City Chambers in November 2015 (L-R: John F MacLeod, Lord Dean of Guild of the Merchants House of Glasgow; The Rt Hon The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Councillor Sadie Docherty; Sir Craig Reedie; Cavendish Group Chairman, Koos Tesselaar

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved Agenda 2020, its “strategic roadmap for the Olympic Movement” in 2014, the most evidently urgent issue was to boost the appeal of hosting the Olympic Games. Four European cities had pulled out of bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, leaving Almaty and Beijing as candidates.

The first three of Agenda 2020’s “20+20” recommendations focussed on reforming the bidding process. These changes have been quickly implemented and the results are evident in the strong field of cities bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games

But Agenda 2020 is about much more than this, focusing on areas such as sustainability, blending sport and culture, launching an Olympic TV channel, engaging with communities – and an issue that has become extremely pressing for the Olympic Movement in recent months: the protection of clean athletes. 

Sir Craig Reedie, in his dual roles as Vice President of the International Olympic Committee and President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, spoke exclusively to Host City about the challenges and opportunities ahead for the Olympic Movement and how the IOC is implementing Agenda 2020.

 

HOST CITY: How is the IOC encouraging organising committees to boost sustainability and reduce the cost of event delivery?

Sir Craig Reedie: Sustainability covers a wide range of operations. It effectively started under Agenda 2020 with the first two or three proposals, which were to shape the bidding process as an invitation; and then evaluating the cities, assessing key opportunities and risks; reduce the cost of bidding; and then to include sustainability in all aspects of the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement. 

By framing the Games bidding process under the invitation, we get the opportunity to speak to a National Olympic Committee which wants to submit a city, and the city itself, right at the start of the programme. We can set out quite clearly that we wish them to consider a sustainability strategy, to develop a plan and to integrate and implement sustainability measures that cover the economic side, the social side and the environmental sphere in all stages of the project. And so far I have to say that seems to be working. 

The Winter Games are sometimes a bit more complicated than Summer Games, because by the very nature of Winter Games there are some indoor facilities that are very sports specific – for example long track speed skating. A lot of work needs to be done by organising committees and candidate cities to make sure that what they build is sustainable after the Games. 

For a summer Games it’s probably a little bit easier, because the facilities that have been built can frequently be used for more than one sport or more than one purpose. It’s certainly an integral part of the Agenda 2020 process and it’s underway. 

We certainly wish to reduce the cost of bidding and that is clearly underway at the moment for the 2024 bidding process. The cities have far fewer presentations to make and they work very closely with the IOC. There are three specific stages and we are just at the beginning of stage one. 

We want what is built to be sustainable; we don’t want any white elephants and we want cities to plan all that carefully all the way through.

 

HOST CITY: Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 do you have confidence that their stadium will be a sustainable solution?

Sir Craig Reedie: Yes, they looked hard at the original plans for the main stadium primarily on the basis of cost and they have come back, as far as I can see, with a revised and more cost effective plan. 

It’s more sustainable and it will be finished earlier, which is a good thing so you can fit that stadium with all the bits and pieces that are necessary for an Olympic Games; you’ve got not just sport taking part there but you’ve got major ceremonies. 

Most recently there was a report from Tokyo on the whole sustainability structure and that gives me some confidence that what we wanted to happen is actually happening. 

 

HOST CITY: A USD 20m fund was set aside to protect clean athletes through Agenda 2020. In the light of recent revelations in athletics, is this enough or are further measures necessary?

Sir Craig Reedie: The US$20m fund is clearly working. It was split into two parts. The first was US$10m for advanced anti-doping research; it was made available to WADA provided we got governments to match the US$10m. We managed to collect about US$6.5m, so we have received or are in the process of receiving US$6.5m of the original ten. So there is a new fund of about US$13m which WADA is dealing with. 

The remaining US$3.5m, which was not matched by governments, is being invested by the IOC itself; and we clearly cooperate on the applications we get for that scientific research to make sure we don’t do the same thing. That process is working extremely well. 

The second US$10m under the heading “protecting clean athletes” wasn’t anti-doping – it was for any forms of manipulation and corruption. Clearly that’s been in the media recently with accusations about wrongdoing in tennis several years ago, and the tennis authorities are clearly looking at that. 

The IOC have invested some of that US$10m in an intelligence gathering system to which almost all the International Federations have signed up. So that process is underway as well. 

 

HOST CITY: It must be very costly looking into and investigating the integrity of all the Olympic Sports combined. Is working with the International Federations (IFs) a way forward there?

Sir Craig Reedie: They are an integral part of the Olympic movement. The IOC itself, the IFs and the NOCs are the three pillars of the movement, so we are structured to deal with the IFs. Certainly in the anti-doping field, from WADA’s point of view, we work closely with all the IFs. 

There is a debate at the moment about the creation of a new independent testing agency to take away the perceived conflict that IFs might have, who are supposed to develop and organise their sport, and at the same time to police their sport. The more we speak to people the more the feeling there is that this is a good idea and it might well happen. 

So this is a major project, the whole anti-doping effort is a major effort and quite clearly there are major problems in sport of manipulation and corruption and the IOC are well aware of that and effectively putting their money where their mouth is. 

 

HOST CITY: What’s the outlook for Russia’s involvement in Rio?

Sir Craig Reedie: Well, from the WADA perspective our job is, having removed the accreditation of the Moscow laboratory because it was criticised in the independent commission report, and having declared the Russian anti-doping agency to be non-compliant, our job is to deal with both of these situations so that the accreditation of the laboratory can be renewed and above all that the Russian anti-doping agency becomes compliant again. 

Our job is not to do this so that people can take part in the Rio Games; our job is to assist Russia in becoming compliant again. It’s other people who decide whether they go to Rio. The one national federation at the moment that is suspended is the Russian athletics federation; it’s the responsibility of the IAAF to make sure that that particular national federation is compliant with all aspects of the world anti-doping code – plus other conditions that it has applied – these will all have to purified before they can be declared compliant and by definition then available to come to the Rio Games. There is a lot of work to be done.

 

HOST CITY: How will the IOC itself continue to show leadership in the good governance of its own affairs?

Sir Craig Reedie: As leaders of the Olympic movement, we start with ourselves. We now produce a very comprehensive and detailed annual report which is very transparent; it tells everybody everything we are doing, it tells what people are paid, and tells everybody that we produce the accounts under the international financial reporting system – even though that’s not a legal obligation on us. 

We have imposed time limits on membership, time limits on periods that you can stay on committees. So we’ve looked very hard at our own governance. 

We also speak regularly to the associations of international federations and encourage them to do the same – and many of them do. 

As far as National Olympic Committees are concerned, they again are given guidelines – there are basic standard of good governance with which we expect them to comply. At the moment they self-monitor, but we try to ensure that across the whole movement high standards of good governance will apply.

 

HOST CITY: How will the Olympic movement engage with society and communities in the future?

In many cases the reform process was a serious think-tank. We did look very carefully at, and have a recommendation on, how we deal with communities. 

The first one that is being worked on is to create a virtual hub for our athletes and we are quite a long way down the line in doing that. 

We’re looking at doing the same for volunteers; we’re looking at ways we can engage the general public. Much of this is social media and how we can improve our website and how we can encourage people to keep in touch with us. We need to have a very clear policy ourselves on how we engage with young people – all of that work is underway. 

We’re also going to develop, at no little expense, a television programme called the Olympic Channel, which is going to be a digital programme in its initial form that can then spread into being a full television programme if needs be at a later date, and if countries want it. That will allow us to inform, educate, hopefully excite, entertain and amuse millions and millions of people. All of that is quite an exciting prospect as we move forward.

 

HOST CITY: It’s interesting that it’s going digital first, because the majority of young people are now watching more on the internet than on traditional television. 

Sir Craig Reedie: Yes, I suspect that that piece of statistical information was warmly welcomed in the offices of the digital channel in Madrid.

 

HOST CITY: Why is it so important to further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games and in-between?

Sir Craig Reedie: At the end of the day it’s one of the absolutely defining characteristics of the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games – that there is this clear mix, this blend of sport and culture.

We’re trying to develop that; we’re looking at creating an Olympic Laurel award to celebrate any outstanding contribution to Olympism through culture, education, development and peace. We are looking to develop an Olympic House, to welcome the general public to engage in a dialogue with the Olympic movement. 

There’s a programme called artists in residence which is being examined; that’s a very specific cultural connection. We’re looking at a curators committee composed of various global cultural players.

We also try as best we can to take the Olympic Museum out on the road: for example, specific Olympic Museums created in host cities at times of the Games. I think that’s quite an exciting project; it’s one of the projects I’m trying to develop, as I think it’s part of our heritage and it’s something we should celebrate. 

 

HOST CITY: How is Agenda 2020 being implemented within the IOC?

Sir Craig Reedie: The whole Agenda 2020 process appears to have been warmly welcomed and we now work on it regularly at the Executive Board meetings. We look at the implementation plan to see what else we have to do; so it’s not just been a question of thinking through what we want to do, putting it down on paper and then hoping that it happens. There is a specific and detailed implementation plan that we look at on a very regular basis. 

A lot of this will fall, in several years’ time, into our new headquarters in Lausanne, so everybody working for the IOC in Lausanne works under one roof. It’s a huge investment in the Olympic movement, it’s a huge investment in sport and it’s also a huge investment in Lausanne – particularly when you look at the way we’ve made a similar investment in the complete remodelling of the Olympic Museum. So we hope to be good citizens.

 

The IOC Executive Board will meet in Lausanne on 1 to 3 March 2016 to discuss the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020

 

IOC welcomes “most sustainable ever” bids for 2024 Games

IOC President Thomas Bach speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 128th IOC Session

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has received candidature files from Los Angeles (USA), Rome (Italy), Budapest (Hungary) and Paris (France) for hosting the Olympic Games 2024 by the Wednesday deadline.

The IOC has hailed the plans, which were submitted in digital-only format for the first time, as showing the potential for unprecedented venue sustainability. 

“Following Olympic Agenda 2020, the Candidate Cities are making use of an extremely high percentage of existing and temporary venues, possibly the most ever,” said Jacqueline Barrett, Associate Director Olympic Games/Olympic Candidatures.

Olympic Agenda 2020 is the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement and the candidature process for the 2024 Games is the first to be launched following its adoption. 

The new process encourages cities to present Olympic projects that best match their sports, economic, social and environmental long-term planning needs. It calls for the use of existing facilities where possible, and provides flexibility for the venue concept to meet local sustainability and legacy needs and ambitions.

“Los Angeles, Rome, Budapest and Paris are all submitting projects fully in line with Olympic Agenda 2020,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

 “It is impressive to see how they have incorporated the Olympic project into the long-term development plans of their city, region and country. Coming from different starting points, for all four there is a clear focus on sustainable development, legacy and in particular how the facilities are going to be used after the Olympic Games,” said Bach. 

“We are delighted to have four extremely strong candidatures and look forward to a fascinating competition.”

The submission of the Candidature Files on “Vision, Games Concept and Strategy” marks the end of the first part of the bidding process. 

“The plans received indicate very thoughtful consideration of what the Cities and their people need for the future,” said Barrett.

“The IOC has significantly simplified the Candidature Process, symbolised by the fact that the submissions arrived for the very first time on a USB key only, instead of thousands of pages of paper documents.”

An IOC-appointed working group will now study the files and report to the IOC Executive Board (EB) in June 2016. 

The next stage of the Candidature Process will focus on Governance, Legal and Venue Funding, to be submitted by 7 October 2016, followed by a final “Games Delivery, Experience and Venue Legacy” stage due on 3 February 2017.

During Stage 3, an IOC Evaluation Commission will make working visits to each City to study their projects in detail and issue a final report. 

The host city of the 2024 Olympic Games will be elected in September 2017 at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru.

 

Scotland hosts international sports bodies as European Athletics evaluates Glasgow bid

Presenting Glasgow's bid in Lausanne

A delegation representing European Athletics arrived in Glasgow on Monday to spend two days in Scotland as part of evaluation visits to cities bidding for the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships. 

And this is just one of a series of important meetings with international sports bodies scheduled for the year. 

Further visits from international federations will take place over the next two to three weeks, an EventScotland spokesperson told Host City, as Scotland continues to bid for and secure the right to stage some of the world’s most prestigious events.

Glasgow is hosting the 2018 European Sports Championship with Berlin. And Glasgow will also welcome the world of sports, business and cultural events to Host City 2016 on 16 and 17 November.

Glasgow is one of four potential hosts of the 2019 Indoor Athletics Championships and, if successful, would be the first Scottish destination for a European Athletics event in 15 years.

The other cities competing to host the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships are Apeldoorn (Netherlands), Minsk (Belarus) and Torun (Poland). 

Evaluation site visits are underway during February and March, before the Evaluation Commission files a report to the European Athletics Council.

The 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships will take place in Belgrade, Serbia.

The Council will vote on which city will host the 2019 championships on 23 April at its meeting in Amsterdam after presentations by the bidders that meet the requirements of the evaluation process.

The Evaluation Commission consists of Karel Pilný (Evaluation Chair); Célia Mendes, Marcel Wakim and Bernadette Brun.

“In recent years Glasgow has established itself as one of the world’s top sporting cities thanks to our investment in new facilities and our international sporting events programme,” said Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham OBE.

“Athletics has been at the very heart of our rise as a world-leading sporting city. This weekend’s Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix will take the sport to a new level and we hope to build on that success with the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, which would see Europe’s top athletes return to the Emirates Arena. Our aim is to deliver a world-class event with athletes and spectators at its very heart.”

As well as meeting with bid partners, including the Scottish Government, EventScotland, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Athletics and British Athletics, the group toured the Emirates Arena.

The itinerary also includes a visit to proposed training venue Scotstoun Sports Campus, and an assessment of Glasgow’s ability to accommodate hundreds of athletes and, potentially, thousands of tourists.

“This weekend’s 2016 Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix has sold out months in advance, demonstrating the huge support for elite athletics there is within the Scottish public,” said Niels de Vos, Chief Executive of British Athletics.

“I’m delighted that Glasgow City and EventScotland decided to build on the success of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and previous British Athletics events held in the city by bidding to host European Athletics’ flagship indoor event at the Emirates Arena in 2019.”

 

Cities are in a “battle for growth” – ECM president

Cities are embroiled in increasingly intense competition for branding, with digital and social media having transferred marketing from city officials to citizens, according to the president of European Cities Marketing (ECM). 

“City branding is more complex than ever. CTOs (chief technology officers) have lost share of voice in the age of digital and social media. The city belongs to the people,” said ECM president Ignasi de Delàs in the run up to the next ECM meeting on 24-27 February in Madrid.

“And it’s definitely no longer just about the tourists. Cities compete more than ever for private investments, business conferences, world sports events, talents in research and science, film productions, political summits, international students, cruise ships, international headquarters and new airline connections.

“Ultimately, it’s all a battle for job growth, prosperity and quality of life. The winners get a global window and a place in the sun. The losers remain in the shadows among the non-places of globalisation.”

At the ECM Meeting in Madrid, February 24-27, ECM and Madrid Destino will present a parade of thought leading international experts highlighting European and North-American perspectives. 

Experienced city brand marketeers will share their most valuable insights and learning for a full two-day conference on the latest trends, the pitfalls and the upsides of a branding discipline undergoing rapid change.

Among key speakers, Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company and Robert Govers, Founding Chairman of the International Place Branding Association will provide opening notes with a seemingly joint message: “Leave the branding to the people”.

Copenhagen will discuss how it leaves its marketing voice and buzz to the people, while Nantes will describe how it uses culture to morph an old industrial port to a new global city. Other cities showcased include Munich, Istanbul, Hamburg and Paris, as well as small destinations such as Davos, home of the “The World Economic Forum” and Billund, the hometown of Lego Corp which aspires to be world’s “Capital of Children”.

A day of seminars will be coordinated by Peter Rømer Hansen, Former Executive Vice President – Strategy & Market Communications at Wonderful Copenhagen and actual Founder and CEO of Rømer Agency.

To find out more visit http://www.europeancitiesmarketing.com/ or contact Flavie Baudot, press@europeancitiesmarketing.com, +33 380 56 02 00

 

2018 World Cup breaks new ground with SIS Pitches reinforced turf

The new hybrid surface will be installed in time for the Confederations Cup in May 2017 (Photo: SIS Pitches)

The FIFA World Cup final will be played on a surface incorporating artificial grass for the first time ever, after Russia 2018 organisers selected an innovative surface called SISGRASS from SIS Pitches.

A surface of 95 per cent natural grass impregnated with more than 150 miles of specially developed synthetic yarn will be installed at Moscow’s historic Luzhniki Stadium. 

The pitch is scheduled to be ready in time for the Confederations Cup in May 2017.

SIS Pitches said its SISGRASS surface offers a safer, softer surface that protects players from injury, but with three times the playing time of natural grass alone. 

“It’s the first time a World Cup final has been played on anything but all-natural grass and it’s like a dream for us as a company and a community,” said SIS CEO George Mullan. 

“We have come so far to get this system to the pinnacle of world sport.”

The patented system was created after SIS Pitches approached Dutch engineers to design a ‘giant sewing machine on tracks’. This machine crawls across a pitch, implanting, or ‘stitching’, more than 240 million precise lengths of two-tone green synthetic yarn 180mm deep into the sub-surface.

“We didn’t want to simply improve on existing machinery. We chose a challenge to create the perfect hybrid pitch of natural and synthetic grass and start from scratch,” said Mr Mullan.

“It strengthens the structure of the natural grass, making it stronger and more resistant to damage which means more games can be played on a pitch. It also drains more effectively. For a busy tournament like the World Cup it is perfect.

“At the same time it is player-friendly. Our polyethylene construction actually gives it a softer feel, with more consistency and greater traction than natural grass alone. That reduces injury risk and the bounce and roll is always even, so the players love all these features,” adds Mr Mullan.

SIS Pitches says the durable surface is also visually indistinguishable from natural grass. 

“TV Companies also love it because the surface stays looking beautiful at all times,” said Ilyas Kobal, SIS division managing director.

“It was a long tender process but in the end our advantages meant even the local Russian companies could not match us.”

SIS Pitches had to convince the FA, FIFA and a host of international testing bodies that its new system worked better than alternatives. This involved stringent accelerated wear trials by rigorous independent testing consultants STRI. 

In these trials the new surface beat unreinforced grass for damage resistance, traction, grass cover and sheer strength, SIS said, claiming that the surface can be used three times longer in all weathers without damage and can be laid in just one week.

Construction work to transform Luzhniki Stadium is underway, due for completion in early 2017. A system of undersoil aeration, drainage, irrigation and heating is being installed to allow the pitch to be used all year.  A custom designed rootzone will be laid, stitched with yarn and then seeded to be ready in time for the Confederations Cup.

During the 2018 World Cup the stadium will host the opening and final matches. SIS Pitches has also signed a two-year deal to maintain the pitch after the World Cup, when Luzhniki will be the home of the Russian national team.

Since its launch in summer 2015, SISGRASS has also been selected for Chelsea, Besiktas, Hull City FC and the English FA’s centre of excellence at St. George’s Park.

 

LA2024 selects UCLA for sustainable Olympic Village

LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman said: “We are fortunate to have the support of two outstanding universities as we look to help the IOC reinvent and reimagine the Olympic experience for everyone.” (Photo: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA)

Los Angeles’ bid committee for the 2024 Olympic Games has selected UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) halls of residence as the proposed site of the Olympic Village. 

The Media Village would be housed at the University of Southern California (USC), in the event of Los Angeles winning the bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

“LA 2024 is first and foremost focused on the athletes and when we looked across the city at possible accommodations options, it became clear that we can offer the best personalized experience for athletes and other participants through existing facilities at UCLA and USC,” said Gene Sykes, CEO of LA 2024.

“With these excellent residences at USC and UCLA, LA 2024 has developed an innovative Games Plan that aligns closely with Olympic Agenda 2020’s sustainability and fiscal discipline goals.”

Building and finding suitable legacy use for athletes’ villages is a challenge for the organisers of mega sports events. 

LA 2024 had previously planned to build a new village for the Games, but with projected costs rising in excess of US$1bn the bid committee has proposed a more sustainable solution.

“We have carefully chosen facilities that are sustainable, fiscally responsible and athlete-friendly,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. 

UCLA will house all eligible athletes and team officials at its residential facilities. All of these facilities are either newly built or recently renovated and incorporate modern design, spacious layouts, social gathering places, and the latest technology and conveniences. 

The Olympic Village offers world-class training centres on site, allowing athletes the convenience of training for their events without having to travel outside the Village. The Village already includes the Drake Stadium, a 400-meter track and field venue. Other facilities will include an Olympic-size swimming and diving pools, gym, tennis, basketball, beach volleyball and other recreation and training facilities. 

“UCLA’s played a special and unforgettable part in my sporting career. It has always provided me with an environment in which to excel, and now I’m training for Rio 2016 at UCLA’s facilities,” said Dawn Harper-Nelson, Beijing 2008 Olympic gold and London 2012 Olympic silver medalist hurdler and UCLA graduate.

“I have experienced both UCLA’s residences and two Olympic Villages, and UCLA measures up perfectly. I am delighted that athletes from across the world will have the opportunity to experience the university’s best-in-class facilities if LA is selected as host city.”

Members of the media, officials and other stakeholders will be housed at USC, which offers newly renovated accommodations located around its Collegiate Gothic-style campus. USC is constructing a new 15-acre residential and retail village, which will house 2,700, and offers a grocery, drugstore, fitness centre, restaurants and retail stores.

USC’s campus and the new USC Media Village are located in the heart of the Downtown Games Cluster, within walking distance to events held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, USC Galen Center, Staples Center, Microsoft Theater and the renovated Convention Center.

“As a USC alum, I’m proud that the media, officials and other supporters of the athletes will have the opportunity to call USC’s world-class campus home during the Games,” said Janet Evans, LA 2024 Vice Chair and Director of Athlete Relations.

“USC is already home to thousands of international students and offers housing of the highest possible quality. The proximity of this housing to LA’s sporting venues will transform the media’s Games-time experience, ensuring optimum living and working conditions.”

Commonwealth Games partners with ICSS to promote good governance

David Grevemberg (right), CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation speaking at HOST CITY 2015 with Bridget McConnell, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life (left)

With sports bodies under mounting pressure to show good governance, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is working with International Centre for Sport Security Europe (ICSS EUROPE) in a new partnership to help promote the highest standards of good governance, transparency and integrity in sport. 

The CGF will also work with ICSS EUROPE as it looks to help encourage the development of a global independent, neutral, multi-stakeholder integrity alliance for sport.

“As a values-driven movement connecting athletes and communities across the Commonwealth, we are proud to be a leading voice in the drive to protect, promote and safeguard sport and look forward to a successful collaboration with ICSS EUROPE and its partners,” said David Grevemberg CBE, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

“Good governance and strategic partnerships are key pillars of Transformation 2022, and today’s announcement amplifies our responsibility and commitment to use Commonwealth sport to build peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities globally.”

Athletics is one of the most popular sports at the Commonwealth Games but it is currently battling with mounting evidence of widespread organised doping. 

“The mounting and complex challenges to the integrity of sport are more apparent than ever,” said Mohammed Hanzab, Founder and President of the ICSS.

“On behalf of the ICSS, I would like to thank the Commonwealth Games Federation for its commitment to safeguarding sport and look forward to advancing efforts with them to address the very real challenges sport now faces to its integrity and credibility.”

The agreement was signed at a reception in the UK House of Commons with key stakeholders from sport, business and government.

“Recent events have shown that there is a real and urgent need for a new approach to the integrity and governance of sport. What is also clear is that this new approach must be credible, coordinated, holistic and global.” said Dr Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO of ICSS EUROPE.

“This agreement with the Commonwealth Games Federation demonstrates a growing momentum developing across a range of sectors to protect and safeguard sport integrity. It also represents a unique opportunity for ICSS EUROPE and CGF to make a real difference to sport across the Commonwealth, as well as advance ongoing discussions with key stakeholders about establishing an independent sport integrity global alliance.”

ICSS EUROPE will also independently audit the CGF’s governance model and assist with the development of a code of conduct on sports betting and integrity to maintain the Commonwealth Games body’s position as a global leader in the field of sports policy, governance and integrity.

 

New IOC Director of Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport Department to start in March

Philip French (right) with Mike Gatting (lef (Photo Credit: England and Wales Cricket Board)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has appointed Philip French as its new Director of Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport Department (PASD), to start work on 1 March.

A British national, French is joining the IOC from the England and Wales Cricket Board where, as Director of Public Policy and International Relations, he was responsible for overseeing the organisation’s strategic development in public affairs and managing key external relationships.

The IOC says it has developed a comprehensive programme using sport as a tool for local socio-economic development and for humanitarian assistance. 

“The PASD is central in defining the strategies for the development and implementation of such grassroots and peace projects around the world, as well as for advocating for the integration of sport and physical activity in national and international policies and programmes,” the IOC said in a statement.

“It is also responsible for fostering partnerships with a wide range of organisations specialised in development and humanitarian aid, including the agencies of the United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in a bid to build a better world through sport.”

Before working at the England and Wales Cricket Board, Philip French held the position of Chief Adviser on Sport at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom government. With responsibilities ranging from grassroots and elite athlete funding ahead of the Olympic Games London 2012, the National Lottery, broadcasting and gambling, French led on drafting and delivering the government’s key strategic policies on behalf of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Mr French was previously Chief Executive of Supporter Trusts, a British non-profit organisation which aims to provide a platform for fans to influence the running of their clubs, and Director of Public Policy at Premier League, where he had responsibility for public affairs, corporate communications and community development. He previously wrote for the Guardian newspaper and was a consultant to UEFA in the UK.

A graduate in Economics with Government of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Philip French has acquired over his career extensive experience in public affairs, international relations, community development and stakeholder management. He is very well acquainted with the world of sport, from both the media and management sides, and will be a valuable addition to the IOC’s team of directors.

A fan of athletics, football, cricket and tennis, Mr French is also involved in a number of grassroots and charity projects.

 

UNICEF boosts Generations For Peace refugee host programme

Generations For Peace (GFP) has been awarded additional funding from UNICEF to expand a successful programme engaging volunteer youth leaders to strengthen social cohesion and resilience, and reduce the potential for violence in refugee host communities

The programme has seen impressive positive impact in 10 communities over the last year. Building on this success, UNICEF is increasing its support, to expand the programme to 16 communities in 2016. To power the expansion, from 9-14 January, 80 Jordanian and Syrian youth leaders completed six days of intensive training, gaining the capacity and confidence to assess local conflict issues, identify a target group, and design, organize, run, and sustain an ongoing series of activities with youth in their communities.

The youth leaders work in Community Development Centres run by the JOHUD, and Youth Centres run by the Higher Council for Youth, in Ajloun, Amman, Irbid, Karak and Mafraq. The Generations For Peace training helps to empower youth leaders as peer educators, as they learn to design and facilitate activities using a unique conflict transformation curriculum. Following the training this month, Generations For Peace will continue to mentor and support the youth leaders as they organize weekly sessions for youth in their communities. A total of 22 weekly sessions helps to ensure that long-term behaviour change and conflict transformation impacts are secured. To expand the positive impact still further, the youth participants and trained volunteers will also design and conduct local community social cohesion initiatives, reaching an even wider audience with what they have learned.

HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein of Jordan, Founder and Chairman of Generations For Peace, thanked UNICEF, noting: “We are grateful for the support of UNICEF and others who see the positive impacts of our work and are helping us to build on our strengths and successes to benefit the most vulnerable communities in Jordan. Our programmes over the past few years have demonstrated the effectiveness of empowering Jordanian and Syrian youth to lead activities in their own communities to break down stereotypes and barriers, build strong friendships with one another, and manage conflicts without violence.”

Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Country Representative for Jordan, said: “UNICEF is proud to increase our support to the ongoing work of Generations For Peace in improving the lives of children and youth affected by the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan. In Jordanian communities hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, youth-led activities that strengthen social cohesion and resilience are critical to ensuring youth can successfully participate and engage in society, and draw upon support networks when facing extreme challenges.”

Omar Alharaki, a volunteer who participated in the training, said: “I have to be an active member in this community; whatever I can offer, I will offer. We have to make sure that our community is a safe place, and this is why I volunteer. I also volunteer so I that can contribute to building a socially conscious generation. Even if we go back to Syria, we will have concepts and principles to take with us, and we will work hard to pass them on from generation to generation.” 

Since the conflict in Syria began, more than 633,000 Syrians have registered as refugees in  neighbouring Jordan (UNHCR 2015), 52% of whom are youth under the age of 18, and with 82% residing in host communities rather than refugee camps. 

The work of Generations For Peace towards improving social cohesion among Jordanian and Syrian youth in host communities is also supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Inti Raymi Fund, Samsung, Orange, and DHL. 

Source: Generations For Peace

 

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