In recent times the influence big business has on sport has spiralled out of control leading to pandemic levels of profiteering and corruption.
With the London Olympics this summer, this statement has become evermore relevant as the International Olympics Committees top sponsors pay at least $100m each for 10-year contracts, while Tier One sponsors for the London Games alone have paid around £40m each (these sponsors include Lloyds TSB, EDF Energy, BT, BP, Adidas, BA and BMW).
These and other sponsors have repressive legislation on their side which can be used to prevent competition; they have exclusive rights to plaster their brand in the Olympic logo. It has been reported that as the official soft drink sponsor until 2020, Coca Cola has exclusive advertising and marketing rights in all Olympic sites and it is estimated that McDonalds will provide 20% of the food for the Olympics as no other branded food can be sold at the venues.
While the Con-Dem coalition rages on with cuts and austerity, they have found room in the Budget for £9.345 billion to be spent on the Olympics. But the argument that the benefits the Olympics will bring to the UK can be noticed by all is a myth, and even in London the benefits to working class people are few and far between. Nearly all of the redevelopment of London is concentrated around the Olympics site with 42% of new houses gaining planning permission being around this area.
FIFA have also been caught under the heel of corporations in the run up to Brazil 2014. At the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, FIFA bullied the Brazilian and German governments to change local laws so that Budweiser would be sold at stadiums.
The influence of big business in modern sport has led to widespread corruption, inequality, promotion of unhealthy foods, alcohol, profiteering and fans being ripped-off. For example, since the foundation of the English Premiership League, the average price for a ticket to see Arsenal play has increased by more than 1000%! The Tory/Lib Dem government’s hypocrisy must be exposed too. Hoping they will be seen as caring about sport and the potential benefits on people’s health, they are remorselessly closing youth and sports facilities on a huge scale across the UK.
It’s time that corporate influence and profit was kicked out of sport.