Asian football Industry+

MIDA: Our key points for participating at WFS Asia
MIDA: Our key points for participating at WFS Asia 1300 1083 World Football Summit Asia


  • Hosting World Football Summit Asia (WFSA) in Malaysia provides a good platform for the country to not only showcase the capabilities of Asian football, but the potential of domestic players in supporting the ecosystem of the football industry, which covers sport and non-sport related activities.


  • As a WFSA Conference Partner, MIDA will be present throughout the Summit and will be involved in the roundtable sessions, panel discussions and Business to Business (B2B) meetings. MIDA, the country’s principal investment promotion agency, stands ready to assist and facilitate business interests in Malaysia’s manufacturing and services sectors, particularly in the following areas:


  • Establishment of Regional Office by international sports companies/organisation.


  • Manufacturers of sport products, accessories, training and R&D Centre, sports healthcare and equipments.


  • Sports technology companies involved in areas such as virtual reality or augmented reality in football, big data services as well as audio visual technology.


  • With Malaysia’s well-developed and modern infrastructure as well as unmatched connectivity, foreign investors have much to gain particularly in capturing growth opportunities and immediate market access of 600 million people in this region. Please connect with us at booth No.18 during the event. You can also stay updated with MIDA’s latest activities by following us on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram (@OfficialMIDA) or visit our website at
Ramón Loarte – Q&A
Ramón Loarte – Q&A 1772 1181 World Football Summit Asia

Ramón Loarte is the Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer at Sevilla FC. He is result-focused and holds an MBA at IE Business School, with more than 15 years in managing business development for top-tier companies and specialized in digital areas.


Over the past 15 years, Sevilla FC has become one of the most important clubs in Europe, winning 5 Europa Leagues, 2 Spanish Cups, 1 European Super Cup and 1 Spanish Super Cup.


We had a small Q&A with Loarte, who is going to be a speaker at World Football Summit Asia, in Kuala Lumpur, on the 29th and 30th of April, 2019.


What can you tell us about the current strategy Sevilla F.C .is following in the digital part of the club? We’ve witnessed how nowadays it’s getting more and more important to cater that part of the club and manage to be even closer to fans.


At Sevilla FC, we understand the importance of digital growth and that is why it is an integral part of our marketing strategy here at Sevilla FC. We want to talk with our fans on a daily basis which will come from our digital platforms and how we engage with our fan base. Just this last year we launched our “Sevilla World Fans” program, which is aimed at identifying our global fans and providing them with exclusive content and club news on a daily basis. As part of our digital growth, we understand the importance of giving fans access to the club with localised content. That is why we have a digitally responsive website which is translated into 6 languages. This is also why we have social channels localized across 7 markets with individual and local ad hoc content published on the respective channels.


What’s Sevilla’s role in Asia and what does the club want to achieve in the Asian continent?


Asia has been a key market for Sevilla FC and, in the future, will only become more important to the growth of our football club. We visited Japan two years ago, when we played two games against local J1 league teams. On the back of our successful Japanese Tour we partnered with two Japanese companies in Falken and Makita with both companies still sponsoring Sevilla FC today. Also, in late 2017, Sevilla FC opened its first SFC Soccer Academy in Asia, in the city of Fukushima. This is the first of many Academies we hope to open across the continent in the near future.

Sevilla FC is also working with the renowned Chinese digital agency Mailman. As part of our work with Mailman we are creating localised daily content across our Asian social media platforms such as Weibo.

Also, as a club, we are working closely with LaLiga who have physical presence in Asia with their Singapore office. During the last 3 years, LaLiga has launched a powerful project of internationalisation of their brand and all their teams, not only the two strongest ones. With LaLiga keen to develop the brand around the world in new football markets and Asia especially, there is an opportunity for Sevilla to grow its fan base too.


How much and in which ways do you believe that the Asian football industry has evolved in the past few years? Every day we see more clubs opening offices in Asia and aiming to be closer to fans in that part of the world.


The growth of Asian football has been fantastic to witness and I’m very excited to see where it will lead to in the future. I think that the more time that European clubs spend in Asia, the more time we spend working and exchanging ideas with our Asian counter parts, the more the Asian football will continue to grow and improve.


 Sevilla FC is an example in many ways. It’s a club that masters the transfer market, has a great eye in finding talent and is living a Golden Age. Why do you think is the reason for that? What is the key to Sevilla’s success in the past 15 years?


Sevilla is a club that has experienced massive change in the last 15 years. In the early 2000’s the club was going through economic problems with negative funds and also in sporting terms there were problems. Following our relegation to the second division, a lot of projects put into practice suffered shortages of funding. But since then, the club has undergone extraordinary change. Under the guidance of coach Joaquín Caparrós, Sevilla would go on the win promotion as champions back to the top flight at the end of the 2000-01 season. The following years would see the Andalucian’s consolidate their position in the league whilst changes at board level would add stability to the club’s business functions.


In 2006, having secured the UEFA Cup qualification, the team would triumph over Middlesbrough in the final in Eindhoven, setting up an all-Spanish UEFA Super Cup final against Champions League winners FC Barcelona in Monaco which they won 3-nil. In 2006-07, Sevilla ended the season in 3rd place in LaLiga behind champions Real Madrid and Barcelona, ensuring UEFA Champions League qualification. Since 2007, Sevilla has won the Copa Del Rey (2009-10), and the UEFA Cup/Europa League a further three times in a row in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Sevilla FC won the Europa League on five occasions across a 10-year period with a squad that incorporated a lot of young players who had developed through the Sevilla FC youth system.

Inside the entity we have a clear aim, which is the sporting goal. In other words, our financial resources are our main tool that enables our professionals to aspire to achieve the best sporting success.


Sevilla FC has made great marketing campaigns in the past few years. More and more clubs are looking for ways to engage with the fans and keep them as close as they can. What is the most important thing you want to communicate and how do you do it?

 “It is said we never surrender”, this is the identity of everything we do and communicate at the football club. Whether that relates to the team on the pitch or our commercial growth off the pitch. This identify is felt in the communication across all the aspects of our club, from the offices to the pitch, keeping our philosophy always close to our minds. This philosophy has helped us reap the European rewards, giving a boost to the club as well as obtaining international recognition and attain a prestige, which we did not have before.

To become one of LaLiga’s, and European football leading clubs requires continued sporting success. Sevilla’s Europa League success in recent years has helped the club build a reputation that is valued by players from around Spain and Europe. Our approach combines the closeness of a familiar club together with the professional structure to help the club build the Sevilla FC of the future.


What’s Sevilla’s medium/long term objective as a club? After winning all those trophies in the past ten years and consolidating as one of the most important clubs in the world, what is it that the club expects to achieve?

As a club we are now focussed on building the Sevilla FC of the future. The club now has 432 employees and revenues of 220M euros and our aim is to continue to grow both on and off the pitch. We want to shape and sustain our model to remain competitive with other clubs in Spain and in Europe as well as to continue obtaining competition successes.

Part of that strategic plan is the remodelling of our stadium, Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Investment in the stadium’s structure and facilities has been undertaken in the last few years to accommodate the needs and expectations of the modern fan, but keeping in mind that we don’t want to lose its essence and location in the city centre. Increasing the stadium’s capacity and developing new hospitality areas have also been an integral part of this development, which the club hopes will secure us the chance to host a UEFA Europa League final in the future.

Since 2015, the club has invested in changing the colour of the seats, covering exterior stands with metal facades and LEDs, the renovation of refreshment stalls and toilets, the replacement of fences with glass panels, the renovation of the away changing room and referees’ changing room, the installation of two new scoreboards and the expansion of the lower East Stand.

We are also developing an action plan for our Training Ground Campus currently known as Sports City. We are aiming to invest between 15 and 20M Euros in the coming years to dedicate an exclusive area for the first team, build offices for the general services of the club, as well as to complete the work of the mini stadium “Jesús Navas”, which has already been initiated, and to undergo a general modernisation process.


How important is the use of new technologies such as big data or machine learning for a club? As we talked before, Sevilla F.C. has a great knowledge of young players across the globe and it has proven how important is to know players when starting to work in the transfer market.


Crucial to the club’s continued growth is the implementation of growing and engaging our global database of fans. This is key for our commercial opportunities both domestically and internationally. With LaLiga keen to develop the brand around the world in new football markets, there is an opportunity for Sevilla to grow its fan base too. And in order to grow our fan base and to grow commercially, it is key we build our database of fans on a global scale. That is why we launched our “Sevilla World Fans” program just last year and why we work closely with Nielsen Sports on identifying and recognizing our fans globally.

According to data from Nielsen Sports, Sevilla FC has 144.5m potential followers around the world, from which 46.8m show a strong interest in the club. Our 5-year plan aims to approach this impressive number of people who show an interest in Sevilla FC and develop more of a global brand without jeopardizing our close environment. Our new digital platform will provide us with identifying multiple touch points to our global fan base. We want to know as much as possible about our fans so we can make sure we are delivering value and rewards for their appreciated support.


On the 29th and 30th of April, World Football Summit will land in Kuala Lumpur to celebrate its first Asian edition. The key players of the industry will gather for two days and discuss the hot topics of the business. What do you think about WFS? Why is it important to have events like this in the football industry?


I think it is important that we have events such as WFS in order to bring the key people from across the football industry to discuss key topics and plan the future of the beautiful game. In this fast-paced life, we all lead today, it is great to have events such as WFS to switch off the day-to-day work for a few hours at least and look to engage with fellow professionals and listen to motivational speeches from the football industry elite.


World Football Summit (WFS) is a globally recognized and important sporting conference. I have been a regular attendee at WFS Madrid and I’m really looking forward to WFS Asia. I think it will be an important date in the calendar for all sporting executives going forward.

James White – Q&A
James White – Q&A 1000 667 World Football Summit Asia

James White has more than 25 years of experience in the sport’s industry and is currently working as the Head of Sales at FIBA in the APAC region. World Football Summit is not only an event that seeks to gather the most important decision makers of the industry, but also to invite important executives from other sports and build bridges that will make the sport’s business thrive.


Hi James, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how did you end up working with FIBA?

I’ve been involved in sport’s marketing since 1994. My first football involvement was in 1994 with the Indonesian league. I’ve been working with football leagues, clubs and national teams in Asia and Europe ever since. In 2011 I was among the first people to engage European clubs and national teams to create local and regional Asian deals, which increased revenue and exposure in the international markets. Many of those clubs have opened offices in Asia ever since.

I am currently with FIBA Marketing seeking partners across the Asian region. But I have worked with many sports in Asia since 1994.

James White

With such a big baggage of experience, in your opinion, what’s the current situation of the Asian sports market? There are many indicators showing us that it is a great continent to invest and that the interest, not only in football, but also in basketball is growing faster than we could ever predict.

 I think that the world sees the strength of the Asian market in terms of sponsorship and investment potential. The economy is going well here so there’s money for sports.

Sports marketing, in general, from content to fan loyalty, ticketing and even sponsorship is at an all time high. Digitisation allows rights holders to know their fans better and deliver diverse offerings, which translates in high engagement levels and revenue as well as better sponsorship prospects.

In my case, FIBA is seeing its most successful days commercially. Times are great for the sports marketing industry here in Asia and the future looks bright as well.


Football clubs and federations are doing all they can to reach the Asian market and engage the fans. Offices are being opened, sponsorships are being negotiated as we speak, etc. How is basketball compared to football penetrating the market?

Football has a higher global participation. It’s by far the biggest sport in the world; basketball is number two, but there’s quite a big difference between number one and number two in terms of following, viewership and participation. We have to choose which markets we engage for our marketing push. We’re happy to have a good position in China, which is becoming the world’s biggest market from a sports revenue perspective. The future looks good as we have our FIBA Basketball World Cup there this year. Having top players from around the world competing here in Asia will help us for years to come in both China and the greater Asian region.

Finally, we work closely with the NBA who has been successfully developing Asia for many years. Football has a very big head start and is the biggest outdoor sport, we are the biggest indoor sport so we certainty hope that people can play football on a sunny day and come inside and play basketball on a rainy day!

Continuing with the parallelism. What would you say that football could learn from basketball and vice versa? NBA is certainly competing with the Premier League and LaLiga in terms of viewership and it’s plain to see that both sports are doing many things right. But, what could they do to improve?

Basketball has learned from football. In our latest world cup qualification process we modelled it after FIFA’s by introducing home and away qualifiers for the first time across 80 markets. That increased our penetration and fan base dramatically since we suddenly had 80 markets watching their national team vs other international teams at home. These games took place simultaneously over an 18-month period.

Also similar to FIFA and other successful global sports federations, we want to give our member associations the opportunity to generate revenue and to play in front of their home fan-base. That sort of activity will increase our footprint all over the world all at once. By seeing what is successful in other sports, we are now reaping the benefits and witnessing huge growth across many markets.

On the other hand, I think that basketball is the only sport that enjoys a strong lifestyle element around it. It’s not just about the sport; it’s fashion, it’s hip-hop music. I think that basketball reaches a group of people that are not necessary hard-core sport fans but really like the lifestyle around it.

Football enjoys a big base of hard-core fans but there’s not as many entertainment and lifestyle elements around it. Especially when you go to a game, that’s that: all eyes are focused on the players and the match.

If they could somehow introduce entertainment elements in an organic matter they could reach more casual football fans and focus more on the off -the-pitch elements of the players. Now that we have a growing digital community there’s more of that being done, but I think that this is an area where football could do more.

We’re moving into a new generation of millennial kids that are going to want cool and fun things. And if the sport is seen as kind of your dad’s sport, it will slowly lose its appeal. While remaining true to the game, every sport needs to stay relevant to young fans; a way of doing that is creating/promoting the lifestyle and entertainment elements around the sport.


That is in fact something that many football circles have discussed and many people are looking at what happened with tennis in the US, where it has become a sport watched by older people and forgotten by the younger generation. Talking about the future, what’s FIBA biggest aim in Asia in the near future?

 The FIBA Basketball World Cup will be held in China in August and September and that’s where most of our focus is being put this year. We obviously have other events happening which are also important, but much of our effort is being put into properly marketing our first FIBA World Cup in the new format and make it the biggest and best sporting event of the year. For example, we had the draw ceremony in Shenzhen last week where we had entertainment like Jason Derulo, Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant, and we actually sold out the stadium of 8,000. People were really excited to attend and it felt like a concert! FIBA turned an operational process into an entertainment/lifestyle event.

Our focus is showing people that our product, whether it’s men’s, women’s, boys, girls, 5 on 5 or 3 on 3, is a fun product. We want to expand in Asia and show those new fans, even if they are not really basketball fans, that they can come to a basketball game, enjoy themselves and have a good time.

That’s our focus: drawing the attention to the lifestyle elements of the sport. Showing people in Korea that most K-pop artists prefer basketball than other sports. Showing them that there’s something for everyone in our game; whether it’s the music side, the fashion side or the actual sport side. I believe that there’s something that will appeal to the urban youth in Asia.

We want them to come and check it out and I bet they’d love it if they gave us a chance.

What’s your opinion on World Football Summit and this type of events?

Often times we operate in spheres of knowledge and we can be limited to the expertise within our own organisations or by the information that we see in the industry publications we read. But only when we cross those spheres with other people, we can truly understand new ideas that we come across. Then, we find ways to move things forward.

Sharing ideas is always a good thing. WFS is a great opportunity for sharing ideas and literally ask questions and dive a bit deeper. We can come away with actual strategies and actionable concepts. It’s a great idea and I am really happy and proud to be included.


James White will be one of the speakers at World Football Summit Asia, where you can hear more about what he has to say about the Asian sports industry.

The Asian Football Industry and its ever-growing expansion
The Asian Football Industry and its ever-growing expansion 4801 3016 World Football Summit Asia

The expansion of the Asian football industry is something that has been happening for a while now. Countries like China, Japan or Thailand have invested billions of euros these last few years, which makes it a common-sense conclusion to celebrate the next World Cup in that very same continent.

For a long time, Europe has been a loner in the football industry. The majority of investments, biggest signings and highest sponsorships came from European countries. However, as the industry blossomed, other parties came into play, making it a more competitive and prosperous market.

For instance, in 2017 Chinese clubs invested the record sum of 540 million euros to sign players coming from Europe. Spanish clubs have earned 110 million euros in incomes from China only last year. But China is not only investing in players for their national league. The best stadium in the world, according to the WFS Industry Awards, takes its name from a Chinese company: Wanda Metropolitano.

AC Milan, now back in European hands, had also a brief period of time when it belonged to Chinese investors. The same goes for their neighbors Internazionale Milano. This is also happening with other players, properties or federations, which are thriving with Asian capital. RCD Espanyol, Nice or PSG are just some other major examples.

Japan is also working hard to consolidate the Asian football industry. Local teams are investing millions of euros in signing European players for their clubs. Japanese firm Yokohama took a massive step in 2015 by signing a 120-million-dollar deal for sponsorship with Chelsea. Last year the world witnessed how Japan took two major Spanish stars to their league: Fernando Torres and Andrés Iniesta. Both of them were offered wages that could easily compete with Europe’s major clubs. Iniesta’s case is indicative of how business and football are going more hand-to-hand than ever in the Asian football industry, having Rakuten, the e-commerce giant, present the Spanish player as the new Vissel Kobe’s star.

Countries such as China, Japan or Qatar, are creating more than 70 thousand football schools for children, understanding that the industry does not only increase when investing abroad, but mainly when nurturing the national product. This investment is not only being made by private companies. On the contrary, governments like the Chinese have started to invest public money in the consolidation of the Asian football industry.

India, a country known for its passion for cricket, has also stepped into the Asian football industry. For example, Football attendances for domestic matches doubled last year, going from 5,000 to 10,000. Sponsorship in football teams also grew in 2017 by 64%, making it clear that the growth of this particular sport in India is unstoppable.

Many European clubs have opened offices in the Asian continent. More than 20 top clubs, such as Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid or Chelsea, have seen the importance of being present in this continent. LaLiga has also just opened a brand new office in Singapore, maintaining its international expansion.

In all business, competition makes companies innovate and prosper, and that’s not going to be any different with football.

The industry is changing faster than most experts predicted. For instance,technology, advertisement or innovation companies have accessed football and they are not planning to leave.

That’s were the importance of creating bridges between the European and the Asian football industry sits. It is vital to organize and attend events and meetings where brands from Europe can meet brands from Asia. Marketing, merchandising, sponsorships and all business related to the sport need a place to find themselves and thrive.

The biggest opportunity for this comes in April, when World Football Summit is going to celebrate its first event in Asia. Malaysia is the place chosen by the organizers, making Kuala Lumpur the capital of football business for two days.