ASIA PACIFIC represents one of the key growth markets for global football, with new supporters, business opportunities and emerging powers from the region.
Although Europe dominates the world game, market experts are predicting that clubs from Asia will eventually compete alongside more established names from football’s traditional heartlands. The rising importance of Asia is one of the main reasons the World Football Summit is hosting its first event on this continent in April 2019 in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur.
Jan Alessie, Director of the World Football Summit, believes the time is right to expand into Asia Pacific: “The growth of the game in Asia is very impressive and worldwide, offers the greatest prospects of all regions. The industry has a big audience to engage with and the challenge is how best to monetise the evolution of new fans. We’re taking WFS to Asia at just the right time.” Kuala Lumpur is also the headquarters of the Asian Football Confederation, so the venue is highly appropriate, adds Alessie. “It has all the facilities we need to stage an increasingly influential business conference, with relatively easy access for the football community.”
Asia’s relevance for European clubs aiming to build a global franchise is now well acknowledged. Alessie is pleased that leagues such as La Liga, the Bundesliga and English Premier League are attending and prominent clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla will also be present. “Asia is a definite magnet for football people with a worldwide perspective,” he says. “And not just for clubs to attract more fans, the commercial possibilities are also significant, with many large corporates in the region eager to strategically grow in the west.”
Alessie is also hoping that the Asian business fraternity can teach football some interesting techniques, perhaps around customer interaction as well as leveraging new technologies. “Asia is a hotbed of financial technology development which can certainly help a business like football. I would hope that while football from Europe can assist the development of the game in the region, the overall benefits in Kuala Lumpur should be two-way,” insists Alessie.
Hence, content at the World Football Summit Asia will be heavily focused on Asia Pacific. After three years of successful Madrid-based conferences, the Alessie is looking to broaden the offering around the world. “Football is a truly universal sport and its appeal continues to grow. It is only logical that we take our events to different locations and it will not stop at Asia,” he says. “We are also keen to expand into the Americas and Africa. Latin America is a natural fit given we are a Spanish company, and with South America having a huge audience and a football heritage that epitomises passion and dedication to the game, we will be looking to harness these elements to take World Football Summit to another big market in the future.”
Meanwhile, Alessie is expecting a successful and rewarding conference in Kuala Lumpur. “Asia is an exciting football market and we are envisaging lots of important dialogue, innovative developments and the strengthening of the World Football Summit brand. Taking our conference to the region is firm recognition of the growth trajectory in Asia and an opportunity for us to show more people what the summit is all about.”