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EghtesadOnline: The private sector needs to play a bigger role to increase the impact of sports on Iran’s economic growth.

This was the focus of a roundtable organized by Donya-e-Eqtesad Media Group, the Financial Tribune’s parent company, at its headquarters in Tehran on Wednesday. 

The media group is planning to organize the First Sports Economy Conference in Iran on December 2-3. To that end, representatives of sports clubs, sports governing bodies and the private sector were invited to a “policymaking council” to learn about the plan and discuss ways in which the event would have an effective outcome.

The conference will revolve around several topics, including opportunities and challenges of sports industry, sports investment and financing, economic approach to sports management, marketing and technology, as well as health and medicine in sports, Financial Tribune reported.

Alireza Bakhtiari, the CEO of Donya-e-Eqtesad Media Group, pointed out that the business of sports and all the things related to it amounted to 1% of the global GDP in 2014, i.e. around $700 billion. 

“This is while the perception of sports as an industry has never gained the strong support of Iranian governments. The idea of organizing the First Sports Economy Conference was to help recognize sports as an industry,” he said.

Mostafa Hashemitaba, veteran politician and former president of the National Olympic Committee of Iran, who was also present at the Wednesday roundtable, said Iranian governments have failed to see sports as a business that can help them earn revenues.

“They have been usually regarded as entertainment and recreation,” he said. 

Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth Jaleh Faramarzian said the huge number of people active in Iran’s sports and the fact that their essential needs should be met guarantee the continued creation of jobs.

“The government supports the idea of shifting toward ‘revenue management’ from the traditional ‘expense management’ approach it has pursued so far,” she added.

Revenue management is defined as the application of disciplined analytics that predict consumer behavior at the micro-market level and optimize product availability and price to maximize revenue growth while expense management refers to the systems deployed by a business to process, pay and audit employee-initiated expenses. 

Saeed Faeqi, a former official with the Physical Education Organization (now transformed into the Ministry of Sports and Youth), asked the conference organizers to form a scientific committee to compile information on Iran’s sports rights, including sponsorship rights, copyright law in football, etc. 

President of Iranian Football Federation Mehdi Taj talked about the sources of income for football clubs in other countries. 

“The clubs are expected to earn 35% of their income from sponsorship, 35% from broadcasting rights and 27% from ticket sales. Iranian Football Federation can’t even earn its expected revenues from ticket sales,” he said.

“All other countries have defined sports rights, except Iran. According to articles 92 and 93 of the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan [2017-22], the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has to pay the television broadcasting rights to the football clubs [which it’s not doing] and the government is not allowed to sponsor any sports club [but it does].”

Mostafa Ajorlou, former managing director of Tractor Sazi F.C., said business owners and economic entities should be in charge of professional sports and not the government. 

“The best outcome of the First Sports Economy Conference could be the government’s pullout from professional football. Football clubs should stand on their own feet, economically,” he said. 

Reza Salehi Amiri, the president of the National Olympic Committee of Iran, asked the organizers of the upcoming conference to see the realities of sports in Iran and adopt a realistic rather than an idealistic approach. 

“The numbers and statistics in Iranian sports [related to turnover, revenues, etc.] are totally different from those of other countries. In fact, our sports are totally dependent on the government budget. Let’s present the true image of our sports in this conference,” he said.

Adel Ferdosipour, television producer and anchor of the most popular TV show in Iran, Navad (Persian for 90), said the economy of Iranian football is “sick”. 

“All private clubs have gone bankrupt. All the mechanisms through which football would generate revenues are blocked. No one in one’s right mind would invest in Iran’s sports under the current circumstances,” he said.

Referring to broadcasting right as the bone of contention between Iranian Football Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Ferdosipour said, “This problem needs to be fixed peacefully and through legal authorities.” 


Iran Sports Economy Conference