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Top 5 Stories Of 2021: Football

Top 5 Stories Of 2021: Football

For the sixth part of the 2021 in review series, Ministry of Sport covers the five most influential football stories of the year.

5 – Private Investment and Rebrand of A-Leagues

The Ministry of Sport team covered the rapidly changing face of the A-Leagues, starting off with the naming rights partnership with Izusu UTE, which we discussed with managing director for the Australian Profession Leagues (APL) and CEO of Sydney FC, Danny Townsend.

Around the same time, we reported rumours about a private investor coming on board, looking to buy a $AU130m stake in the A-Leagues.

The A-League then revealed its new vision as the men’s, women’s and youth leagues were unified under the “A-Leagues” banner.

The APL then signed a private equity deal to off-take a minority stake (33%) to Silver Lake, a US equity firm.

The transaction valued the APL at approximately USD$300m (AUD$425m), resulting in a transaction figure of roughly USD$100m or AUD$141m.

4 – International Football – Ups and Downs

A lot happened in the world of international football with an early year match-up between top English Premier League sides, Manchester United and Liverpool, recording an average of 4.5 million viewers on Sky Sports.

Manchester United also made headlines for being named as most innovative sports team.

Although the world’s football governing body, FIFA, has had revenue drop by 65% due to COVID-19, suffering a net loss of AUD$880 million in 2020.

In May, a Madrid court has dismissed a legal claim by Real Madrid ruling in favour of La Liga after Real Madrid challenged the Spanish soccer body to commercialise the league’s broadcast rights.

FIFA wasn’t the only one who was losing money with the English Premier League (EPL) club Manchester City having posted a net loss of £126 million (AUD$227 million) loss for the COVID-19 impacted 2019-20 season.

3 – Cryptocurrency

The cryptocurrency craze of 2021 made its way into football, with Fantastec SWAP and Dapper Labs have partnered to form a new Non-fungible Token (NFT) marketplace for football, advertising collectables from big-name clubs like Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Arsenal.

Later in the year, Lionel Messi joined the cryptocurrency craze, with Messi set to receive PSG Fan Tokens as part of his payment from Paris Saint-Germain.

As we came to a close for the 2021 year, the sentiment changed towards crypto, with two teams pulling out of partnerships, citing legitimacy concerns.

English Premier League club, Manchester City, suspended their partnership with a cryptocurrency company, less than two weeks after the deal with 3Key was secured.

2 – 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

After Australia and New Zealand were awarded co-hosting rights to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2020, 2021 was filled with news surrounding the organisation and planning of the World Cup.

In February, FIFA named Jane Fernandez and Jane Patterson as the chief operating officers for the World Cup for their respective countries.

This was followed by Australia and New Zealand announcing the nine host cities and 10 stadiums across the two nations that would host matches throughout the tournament.

Later in May, the Australian Federal Government announced a $12 commitment over two years to support the progression of elite women’s football in Australia.

The funding commitment was part of Football Australia’s ‘Legacy 23’ plan.

In the middle of the year, Dave Beeche was named the new CEO of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Lastly, FIFA revealed a new brand identify for the Women’s World Cup in 2023, with a focus on first nation culture from both Australia and New Zealand, with the logo to feature cultural details from both nations’ first nation cultures.

1 – Women In Football

2021 was a monumental year for women in football, with Ministry of Sport reporting the first major story in March, reporting Fox Sports announced a new channel dedicated to women’s sport.

Football Australia (FA) has also taken initiative, having announced an extension to their partnership with Rebel Sport, with the goal of supporting the growth of women’s and grassroots football across the nation.

FIFA tallied the data, releasing their first-ever comprehensive analysis of women’s football, having surveyed over 282 clubs across 30 leagues, which the results you can read here.

Streaming platform DAZN also supported the movement, having made a deal with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to broadcast the next four seasons of the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL), globally.

New Zealand saw their first professional women’s football team with Wellington Phoenix will join the W-league for the 2021-22 season starting in November.

The A-League Women competition has seen a record number of female coaches, with four out of the ten coaches in the league female.

And finally, Football Australia has announced the launch of the ‘Our Game’ initiative in the last few days of the Ministry of Sport year, which you can read more about here.

To view all other parts of the Ministry of Sport top five of 2021 series, click here, otherwise, keep an eye out on our socials channels and website for the next release in the series.

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