Football is never far from the headlines at the moment thanks to this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil, and controversies surrounding the 2018 and 2022 competitions, to be hosted by Russia and Qatar respectively.
Academics in The York Management School, University of York, who have been conducting a pioneering management history research project of the 1966 FIFA World Cup believe that the game and its governing bodies could do well to heed the lessons of history.
Dr Kevin Tennent and Dr Alex Gillett, editors of the ‘Soccer Mad Boffins’ blog site, which will be launched this summer to coincide with the tournament in Brazil, identify that such controversies over the organisation of sports tournaments with international participation are not new for the sport.
According to Dr Tennent, “This is about cross-cultural management. How do cultural and language barriers effect the success – or otherwise – of tournaments like the FIFA World Cup? We have seen innovations introduced as a result of such misunderstandings - the red and yellow card system was, for example, introduced as a consequence of problems of language and understanding during the 1966 FIFA World Cup when it was hosted in England.”
Dr Gillett adds: “We are told that we live in an increasingly globalised society, but as new ‘markets’ open up – or are opened – by industries including sport, the financial stakes as well as expectations, are raised. This means that problems are closely scrutinised. Perhaps sport has never before been quite so under the microscope in terms of its accountability and transparency. The question is, how will its governing bodies adapt?”
Dr Tennent and Dr Gillett’s year long study is supported by FIFA and the Centre International d’Etude du Sport in Switzerland through the João Havelange Scholarship scheme. They are particularly interested in the organisation of the tournament in the years running up to 1966, the day to day management of the tournament itself, and the management of legacy after the tournament.