Sports Leadership Specialization


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FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is the organization created with the mandate of organizing international football events, particularly the World Cup. The “International Federation of Association Football” is a global organization which is the Association football’s governing agency.  The organization came into being in 1904 mandated with the role of overseeing international competitions amongst national associations of different countries. The countries that were involved at the time were Denmark, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden (Giulianotti, 2012). Over the years, the organization, which has its headquarters in Zürich, has grown in membership. The current number of members is 211 national associations. While the organization does not have much control over the rules of the game, it plays a critical role in organizing and promoting international football tournaments. Like any other organization in sports, FIFA faces various challenges that have to be addressed through effective leadership.

The Organization

FIFA’s Mission, Vision, and Core Value

The mission. The mission of FIFA is to “develop the game, touch the world, build a better future” (FIFA, 2007, p. 2). Football, which is played internationally, is at the core of the organization, and being a sport that is internationally esteemed, the organization has the responsibility of developing it. FIFA is the custodian of the most esteemed game in the world. This means that the organization has a crucial responsibility, which does not end with the planning of the World Cup and other global tournaments. The responsibility goes as far as to develop the game globally, safeguard the laws of the game, and to be responsible to the marginalized people globally. By using the power of the game, the organization is better placed to build a better future.  This is achievable through taking advantage of the popularity of the game. The mission of the organization has played a crucial role in giving direction and meaning to every activity that the organization engages in. The game is an integral part of the global community.

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The Vision. Through the application of various guiding principles as well as the strong and quantifiable objectives, the organization has the vision of promoting the “game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all” (FIFA, 2007, p. 3). The organization intends to use various guiding principles as well as measurable and concrete objectives. One of the guiding principles is to increase the global population, participating in football as coaches, players, referees, and fans. The football game is aimed at increasing the participants by 60 percent for the upcoming World Cup tournament. Investment in the game is intended to increase in order to grow the participation and achieve the vision.

The Core Values. The core values of FIFA are “authenticity, unity, performance, and integrity” (FIFA, 2007, p. 4). Through authenticity, the aim is striving to create a simple and beautiful game, enjoyable and one that touches lives. The idea is to promote a game that can be comprehended and enjoyable for all people regardless of the differences in race, culture, gender, educational status or income. In its nature, football is enjoyed and entertains everyone across the world.  The organization has a role in fostering unity despite differences regarding cultures, ethnicity, gender, and faiths. For example, any time the organization arranges a national tournament, the world comes together in solidarity to celebrate the game that they all cherish. In fact, there is no other event that brings people together like football. High-quality football is the basis of performance as a core value. For the best experience for all the stakeholders in the game, it is critical that it is of utmost quality. It should work as a social and cultural enabler internationally. Integrity relates to aspects such as fair play, sportsmanship, transparency, and tolerance. This is the basis for the observance of ethics in the game of football in the world. Every person affiliated with the game has the role of ensuring that they behave ethically.

The Organization’s Structure

It is under the Law of Switzerland that FIFA is created. It is also based on the same law that the organization has based its regulations for the game of football. Operating according to some legal and regulatory guidelines is the basis for the development of organized sport. The FIFA Congress is the legislative body that oversees smooth operations of the association. The Congress comprises of various stakeholders, primarily representatives from the member associations that are affiliated with the organization. The administrative body is responsible for making decisions affecting FIFA by legislating statutes. It is the body responsible for organizing the global tournaments like the World Cup and making the decisions regarding how the game is played during such events.

Besides the legislating body, the leadership comprises of the Executive Committee made up of 25 individuals, including “the President, 8 Vice Presidents, and 15 members and one woman member” (FIFA., 2017, p. 1). The Executive Committee makes decisions such as where the World Cup will be held. The daily administration of FIFA is the responsibility of the President and General Secretary. The international organizational structure of FIFA is made up of a number of other bodies, including “the FIFA Ethics Committee, the Disciplinary Committee, the FIFA Emergency Committee, the Finance Committee and the Referees Committee” (FIFA., 2017, p. 1).

One of the goals of FIFA is to improve the game of football internationally in pursuance of educational, cultural, unifying and humanitarian values, especially through development and youth programs. By the time the 2026 FIFA World Cup opening whistle is blown, the organization aims at having achieved a considerable growth in the world population participating in the game in one way or another. There is already a huge following for the game, but the organization is striving to continue growing the number. To achieve the objective and develop the game, the organization seeks to increase the investment by over USD 4 billion. Investment in football suggests the investment in humans and society. Another objective is to take passionate football actions to all parts of the world through the more than 200 members of the association. Through the FIFA World Cup, the different faces of football are evidenced by the various competitions (Pielke, 2013). FIFA also aims at using the unifying element of football to build a better society through human and social development. The various goals and objectives of FIFA are global in nature because the organization operates in a global arena.

Organizational and Leadership Challenges

One of the challenges that are facing leadership in the global sporting organizations is the increase in cultural diversity as a result of globalization (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2012). The ease with which individuals are able to cross the national borders due to globalization is creating a unique challenge for the bodies that are governing international sporting events. Sport is one of the most diverse settings in the world today as it is made up of people from different races as well as cultural backgrounds. The sport brings in people from different backgrounds; people that do not always blend. Hence, it is not always the case that football fosters tolerance or plays a role of social blending and integration. When people come together from different backgrounds, it is not always the case that there is adequate understanding and acceptance of the differences (Kinicki & Kreitner, 2012). There are major advantages that could emanate from cultural diversity, but they are not always realized because of intolerance. In some cases, when people come from different cultures, it becomes the basis for cultural conflict.

Leaders of sport organization like FIFA are being faced with the challenges of managing amid the differences and at the same time get the best out of cultural diversity. Leaders have to contend with the issue of cultural diversity in the teams and in the bodies within FIFA that are mandated with the role of overseeing a smooth running of the sport (Hoeber & Hoeber, 2012). For example, it is a reality that none of the teams playing for whichever country are made up of individuals from the same culture. The reality is the basis of recent cultural intolerance where some players have been subjected to pure discrimination and prejudice. The media has reported that Russian football is greatly impacted by the problem of racism. Far-right extremist and racist culture among the spectator has threatened the stability of the game, especially in the event that the country gets to host the World Cup in 2018. There are major cases of discriminatory behavior that have been revealed in the country (Walker, 2014). Hence, the organization’s leadership has faced the challenge of dealing with such issues and building ethical and tolerance sporting activities.

Since the 2010 World Cup, it is evident that FIFA is taking advantage of the social media applications, including Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, to reach and appeal to its international fan base. Players and fans engaged in a great deal of social media activity in the 2010 and later the 2014 World Cup tournaments. It is evident that the organization will continue taking advantage of the platforms. Twitter indicated that there were more posts about the recent event than the 2010 event, indicating that the trend will continue in the future. However, even as the organization embraces the development, it should take into consideration the challenge that the new technology presents for the organization and football as a game. It has changed the way the users are experiencing and interacting with the game (Arnold, Fletcher, & Molyneux, 2012). In addition, it has emerged that the technology has both the positive and negative aspects in sport organizations. Leaders within the organizations have the challenge of recognizing and using the novel opportunities while at the same time avoiding the typical traps and detrimental issues.

While social media has the potential as a tool for marketing and promotion of brands in sporting events, it can be used for negative purposes by the players and the fans. Hence, the leadership within FIFA faces the challenge of ensuring that the social media applications are not used to damage the reputation of the organization and the game and that it does not serve to hinder the achievement of its goals and objectives (Arnold, Fletcher, & Molyneux, 2012). Additionally, the management of the organization has the challenge of improving mobile applications to improve the game, globally. Effective use of information technology and social media can be negatively affected by its use to spread unreliable or wrong information about a team, players, or the organization in general. For instance, a simple tweet with wrongful information has the potential of going viral causing extensive damage (Voight, 2012). Such situations have already occurred and will continue in the future.

As the social media platforms become the main stage for the audience to experience the game, the prevailing strategies will not be effective in the management of these marketing avenues. The leadership has the challenge of ensuring that brand spreads its resources widely to capture the use of diverse platforms and to ensure that they are used for the right purposes. The use of third parties – such as Twitter and Facebook – has the potential for making the brands lose because of the distraction they cause. The leadership of FIFA is mandated with the role of creating more effective platforms that are specifically targeted to the game and also ensure that they are only used to promote and market the brand. Social media can give the fans a great avenue to experience the game, but only if carefully structured (Stephan, 2016). Hence, the leaders face a challenge because controlling the social media has remained an elusive endeavor, particularly if the current communication strategy is used in the management of the new media.

Organizational Strategy

The challenge caused by globalization and cultural diversity, including cultural intolerance, can only be addressed by creating and promoting a culture of tolerance. Sports, especially football, can be used as a tool for social and cultural cohesion and unity. To achieve this end, organizations such as FIFA has the responsibility of designing a cultural diversity strategy to promote an understanding and appreciation of other cultures. Marketing the importance of diversity in sports is the foundation of promotion of tolerance (Young & Okada, 2014). The strategy will also be the basis for achieving the core value of unity in FIFA through understanding of the uniting and identity-building role of culture. Given the global reach, it is critical for the strategy to be founded on an understanding and implementation of the intercultural dialogue via sport.

As a leader of the organization, the initial step would be to come up with a policy, rules, and regulations to ensure that such a culture is promoted within individual associations and football teams. For instance, the leader can come up with an ethical and legal framework for guiding the behavior of the members of the associations and teams (Chelladurai & Kerwin, 2017). Any team or association that violates the guidelines can face sanctions, including suspension from taking part in the international tournaments. Fines have been used in the past to ensure that individuals, teams, and associations are operating in such a way that there is adherence to the ethical principles. The strategy should be founded in such a way that it promotes the cultural diversity strategy.

To be able to achieve responsible and effective use of technology and social media, it is critical for organizations to invest in terms of time, efforts, and a readiness to develop expertise. It is also critical to ensure that organizations and those affiliated to them have an understanding of what it means to develop responsible use of social media.  The most effective step is to come up with a social media strategy for use throughout the organization and by those affiliated to it. Working with the social media policy, the strategy will ensure that the negative effects of the social media do not impact on the organization (Filo, Lock & Karg, 2015). The strategy will be in place to show the way the organization will calculatingly engage with social media.

Developing a social media strategy is the basis for addressing the challenge of responsible and effective use of technology and social media. A social media strategy should be geared towards coming up with some form of controls over the use of social media by the stakeholders affiliated with the organization. The strategy should include training on effective and ethical use of social media to capitalize on the potential of social media as a marketing and promotion tool (Witkemper, Lim, & Waldburger, 2012). The policy and guidelines for social media use should be published on the organization’s website for access, especially internationally by the stakeholders. Again, violation should be accompanied by sanctions such as suspension.

The Rationale for the Strategy

Diversity has always been viewed as a positive element of the organization’s effectiveness (Hanleybrown, Kania, & Kramer, 2012). For an organization like FIFA, cultural diversity can be effective in promoting the core value of unity. It is also the basis for cultural and social inclusion. It is the basis of boosting the dialogue about different cultures existing together in unity. Major efforts have been made in the past, including sanctions, but their impact has not been realized. Hence, the strategy to promote cohesiveness is critical to ensuring that the organization and the affiliated associations take advantage of the cultural diversity to continue building the game. Being international in reach, no culture alone can support the achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2012). Hence, the strategy has a critical role to play in ensuring that individuals are able to work with those from different cultures for the common good. As a norm, diversity should be viewed as a cohesive rather than a divisive force.

Technology, particularly the new media, is playing an important role in boosting brands and activities globally (Witkemper, Lim, & Waldburger, 2012). Because of the user-generated content and the global access to social media, it becomes critical for the technology to be embraced in sports. The organization can take advantage of the social media in ensuring that the news and events reach the masses globally. The players can use the social media to ensure that they keep in contact with their fans globally. They can build up online communities that can be a source of social support and motivation (Witkemper, Lim, & Waldburger, 2012). Hence, the strategy promoting the positive use of social media is critical in achieving the mission, vision, goals, and objectives of the organization. The strategy is important to present the disruptive use of social media such as spreading of wrong and unreliable information. A policy providing guidelines on proper use of social media will allow capitalizing on the global reach and the potential of content to go viral in promoting the FIFA brand and the sporting events organized by the organization.

Projected Organizational Outcomes/Goals

Football is expected to be a unifying force with the global reach. However, in the event that cultural intolerance abounds, it can be a dividing force. Hence, implementation of the proposed strategy is expected to play the role of using football as the unifying force by bringing individuals and groups from different cultures to work together towards a common objective (Clark, 2014). Social inclusion and cohesion are the outcome of an effective cultural integrity strategy. Bringing together cultures from different parts of the world and ensuring that they work together to the benefit of the game will make it more appealing. It will be possible to attract greater participation globally. Hence, it is expected that in future, FIFA will be able to organize sporting events with individuals from diverse cultures without the concerns raised by cultural intolerance. FIFA will use football to achieve the goal of unity where cultural tolerance abounds.

Social media is the basis for the achievement of the goal of promoting FIFA and football in general. Therefore, following implementation of the strategy, it is expected that the users of the social media applications will use them responsibly and ethically. Social media has the potential of reaching the masses with the message of football, including forthcoming events. Hence, effective communication and promotion, availed by the social media, are the outcome of a policy promoting responsible and ethical use (Abeza, O’Reilly, & Reid, 2013). Instead of posting negative messages that go viral, effective social media will allow posting of more aspects of the game, which are communicated to the participants across the world. It will also be the basis for the creation of supportive online communities. The leadership will achieve the objectives of the organization by capitalizing on the additional communication channel.

Sustaining the Mission, Vision, and Core Values of the Organization

A major change will take place in the event of implementing the strategies proposed to deal with the challenges. These changes are expected to impact on the mission, vision and core values of the organization. The changes are at the core of the organizational structure and will impact on the way business is carried out within it (Rothaermel, 2015). However, this would not be a problem unless the proposed change is not aligned to these aspects of the organization. There will not be a problem as long as the leadership understands how the core of the organization will be affected by the change.

To ensure that these are sustained, it will be critical to ensure that the changes are aimed at supporting their achievement and that there is an alignment with each of them. Thus, prior to the implementation process, the leader will need to go back to the mission, vision, and the core values to understand them and implement change in line with them. Basically, they should be the guiding principles in the implementation of the change (Rothaermel, 2015). The change should be adapted to the mission, vision, and core values and not the other way around.  Such a change will be effective as it will support the organization in achieving its goals and objectives. The leadership does not only have the responsibility of implementing the change but also ensuring that whatever change is adopted supports the goals and objectives.

Strategic Action Plan

For success to be achieved in the proposed change, it should be strategic (Goetsch & Davis, 2014). The first step in the strategic plan is establishing the elements of the organization that should be changed. Carrying out a needs analysis is the best way to achieving this end. The needs analysis will include the efforts to understand the challenge in order to implement the changes that are geared towards addressing them. The following step is devising the SMART goals and objectives that should be achieved by the end of the project implementation. Bringing together the stakeholders is the next step in the process (Haslett, 2013). At this point, the leadership has the important responsibility of building an audience for the proposed change and having positive interactions. This is necessary to communicate the need for change with them and to give facts about the planned course of action. However, it is important to note that the stakeholders will be involved throughout the change process. The proposed change is developing a policy to promote diversity and a social media policy. Hence, the next step is designing and developing the policies ready for implementation. Iterative review and refining of the new strategy will follow the implementation.

Before implementation of the proposed change, it is critical to establish the means by which the outcomes of the goals and objectives will be measured. This is the basis for the evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of the implemented change. With the collaboration with the stakeholders, the policies will be implemented and enforced by all the associations that make up the organization. It is necessary that the changes are communicated to the players, coaches, referees, and fans among any other person or group with stakes in the game of football. The policies will be promoted via the organization’s website to ensure that they are accessible to all the international stakeholders (Rothaermel, 2015). The stakeholders who will support the change process’ implementation will be the Executive Committee and the representatives from the member associations. Individual teams will also be involved to ensure that they understand the ethical and responsibility framework. Involvement of the various stakeholders is critical to ensure that the change process is supported at all the levels of the organization.

Sustainability and Growth of the Sport Organization

From the mission, vision, and core values of the organization, it is evident that the organization is committed to develop the game and the global community in general. It is evident that the organization is prepared to make a positive contribution to the social well-being by developing personalities and communities locally and globally. Nonetheless, this can only be achieved in the environment with sustainable growth because that is the only way to contribute to a sustainable society. The growth and its outcomes should be felt in an equitable and long-lasting manner. As long as the organization operates in an ethical and socially responsible manner, it is possible for sustainable outcomes to be achieved. For FIFA, the commitment towards social responsibility and developing of lives has been established with the mission, vision, core values, and goals/objectives. Hence, the potential for building a sustainable organization are based on ensuring that these elements are achieved (Rydin, Seymour & Lorimer, 2011). The leadership should ensure a contribution towards social effects such as reinforcement of collective identities, improving lives, uniting individuals and communities, and being socially responsible.

Leadership of the organization is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that development is achieved, and done so sustainably. Strategic leadership is crucial for the growth of the sports organization. This is the kind of leadership that creates an all-encompassing understanding of the vision, mission, and core values of the organization to ensure that the members work towards the achievement. The leadership ensures that there is a direction that the organization should move, and makes the steps necessary to ensure that every stakeholder is moving towards that direction. Decision-making involves the members of the organization who have an influence on the prospects of the organization and that are geared towards its overall success (Kouzes & Posner, 2009). The growth and stability of the organization are the main focus for all the stakeholders affiliated with it (Quong & Walker, 2010). To be effective in dealing with the change, the leaders will need the necessary skills and resources to design and implement workable strategies. The strategies should be targeted towards the future growth of the organization. Also, working towards a common vision of the organization is critical for its growth prospects (Beatty & Quinn, 2010). The leaders should always understand the vision and work towards its achievement. Effective management of change to address the challenges necessitates leadership that can provide a sense of direction for the organization.


FIFA is one of the international sports organizations commonly associated with the World Cup. The organization has a huge responsibility to the member associations, international football teams, and the huge number of football fans. The leadership of the organization, hence, has a huge role in ensuring that the stakeholders buy into and work towards achieving the vision of the organization. However, there are major challenges that are affecting the organization and should be addressed to prevent them from hindering the achievement of its goals and objectives. These two challenges are cultural diversity and effective use of technology and social media. Designing a solution to the challenges aligned to the vision, mission, core values and goals/objectives of the organization is the key to achieving sustainable growth. Strategic leadership is the most effective form of leadership to ensure strategic change management to deal with the challenges.

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