Major sport events drive potential £4 billion ‘soft power’ boost to UK

WEMBLEY, LONDON, ENGLAND- 13 June 2021: Football fans leaving Wembley Stadium after England's win against Croatia in the EUROS game

Major sport events in the UK could deliver up to £4 billion of soft power, trade and investment benefits in the next decade, according to a new report commissioned by the City of London Corporation and UK Sport.

The report acknowledges that the benefits of hosting major sporting events are ‘routinely under-reported’ while important learning is often lost due to the transient nature of events and the organisations set up to run them.

It calls for improved monitoring of the impact of events and a more joined-up approach between the public and private sectors, getting business involved at the earliest opportunity and doing more to ‘activate’ host cities and regions through non-sporting activities.

The report, produced by professional services firm EY, is published following a summer in which Wembley Stadium hosted six Euro 2020 games and ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup coming to England next year.

City of London Corporation Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness said:

“As we enter a new phase in the UK’s trading relationship with the rest of the world, this report reminds us of our strengths as a sporting nation and how this can be used to build our existing global partnerships and develop links with new trading partners.

“There is a clear and compelling case for adopting a more co-ordinated approach and ensuring major sporting events are linked to trade and wider international goals.

“As a world-leading business centre, we will work with partners and use our convening capabilities, to ensure the report’s recommendations are taken forward.”

The report found few organisers of major sport events had sought to quantify their soft power, trade and investment impacts, with the notable exception of the London 2012 Olympics and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

It suggests a ‘clear rationale’ should be set for events – linking in with existing event and international relations strategies – and their impact measured, with more clearly defined responsibilities set for public and private sector bodies.

Future events in the scope of the report include the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next summer, Rugby League World Cup in England next autumn and a potential joint bid by the UK and Ireland to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.