The perceived increase of social responsibility in the football industry

The perceived increase of social responsibility in the football industry: due to a broadening of the sports sector and growing influence of ‘external’ institutions?

Wednesday 3rd November 2010 at 6pm

Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London),
Medawar Building,
Malet Place, (off Torrington Place)
London WC1

(For directions click here).

Given by: Dr Roger Levermore, University of Liverpool School of Management.


This first part of the lecture explores the extent to which the football industry has embraced the concept of social responsibility that has increased considerably across other industrial sectors. In some ways, the football sector has exceeded this pattern, with examples in many parts of the world where it has been used in both ways in which social responsibility is enacted – either via core business activities or through dedicated initiatives. Well-publicised examples include Football in the Community, the World Cup, and FIFA’s Football for Hope programme. Although football has arguably always been associated with social awareness because it is more of a social entity than typical business, the main impulse for this increase is because of the growth of external organisations that interact with the football industry. There has been a ‘spillover’ of practices into football from its association with well-established ‘mainstream industry’. The second part of the lecture questions this picture and assumption. It highlights concern that there is little substance behind this wave of social responsibility. This might be part of a long established trend of social irresponsibility in football, standard behaviour of the forms of organisational typology associated with the football industry and/or a further indication of mainstream business practices entering the football industry where social responsibility is used as a ploy to escape stricter government regulation.


  • Tim Breitbarth and Phil Harris, ‘The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Football Business: Towards the Development of a Conceptual Model’, European Sport Management Quarterly, 8 (2), 2008, 179-206
  • Roger Levermore, ‘CSR for Development Through Sport: Assessing its potential and limitations’, Third World Quarterly, 31 (2), 2010, pp. 223-241
  • Aaron Smith and Hans Westerbeek, ‘Sport as a Vehicle for Developing Corporate Social Responsibility’, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 25 (7), 2007, 43-54
  • Geoff Walters and Simon Chadwick, 2009, ‘Corporate Citizenship in Football: delivering strategic benefits through stakeholder engagement’, Management Decision, 47:1, 51-66.


Dr Roger Levermore is Lecturer in International Development and member of the Football Industry Group at the University of Liverpool Management School. He has researched and published extensively in the areas of international relations, international development and corporate social responsibility in the football industry as well as the extent to which corporate social responsibility differs according to organisational typology and location. Most research has been conducted in the UK, Japan and South Africa. This included a review of CSR at the 2010 World Cup. He has co-edited books on Sport and International Development (Palgrave, 2008) and Sport and International Relations (Routledge, 2004).

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