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GİLA BENMAYOR > Sports economy summit in Istanbul

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Today, Istanbul is quietly hosting an important summit: the “Business of Sports” summit, led by the International Herald Tribune newspaper.

Among those who have come to Istanbul for the two-day summit at the Çýraðan Palace Kempinski Hotel are such important names as the Sochi Winter Olympics CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko, the America’s Cup CEO Richard Worth, the South Korea 2018 Winter Olympics President Jin-Sun Kim, and Interpol Secretary General Ron Noble - who has been appointed by FIFA to scrutinize corruption in sports.

Also, the presidents of football clubs such as Chelsea and Juventus, investors in the sports sector, lawyers and legal counselors and auditors are all gathering in Istanbul.

Ýlhan Nebioðlu - a banker friend, who for months lobbied in London for the summit to be held in Istanbul - sees this meeting as an important opportunity for Turkish sports. Moreover, he thinks the summit could be a springboard for Istanbul’s candidacy for the 2020 Olympics.

While talking about the Olympics, I would like to mention some research conducted by P&G and the National Olympics Committee, which are both cooperating to encourage young people’s interest in sports.

According to the research, Turkish interest in the Olympic Games is very little compared to other countries.

The outcome of the research should not be too surprising, because the proportion of children involved in sports in Turkey is only 37 percent.

In 25 percent of families only one person does sport. Just like their fathers, 70 percent of children prefer football. The fact that there is no adequate investment in sports, as well as the scarcity of decent sports facilities in Istanbul and Ankara, plays a big role in this picture.

Nebioðlu points out that there are few appropriate parks in which people can exercise. Of course, he is right when you consider that hundreds of people regularly exercise in Hyde Park in London, where he lives.

While interest in sports is so meager, and while our sports clubs are in deep debt, from the point of view of a banker, Nebioðlu says it is only a dream to expect foreign investors in the sport sector.

It is certain that somebody like the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich - who bought the English team Chelsea – is not likely to drop by Istanbul.

The lack of interest in doing sports in Turkey is a major loss for the sporting economy. Illustrating this, a report issued by counseling company PricewaterhouseCoopers ahead of the 2012 London Olympics shows just how much the sports economy will grow in coming years.

According to the PwC report, the global sports market will reach $145 billion by the year 2015. This means an annual growth of 3.7 percent.

While the United States will remain as the biggest market in sports economy, growth will be seen in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

According to the PwC report, behind this growth lie such things as television commercials, the sponsorships of the automotive and finance sectors, internet sales, and the events in London and in Sochi.

The summit in Istanbul is thus a good opportunity to scrutinize the subjects of sport and the opportunities it creates.

April/25/2012

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