Why is ESG crucial these days?​

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is a policy adopted by companies that aims to promote the social well-being of employees and customers.

In the last 30 years, ESG has entered the business agenda as a way to meet the demands of the modern consumer, who is increasingly concerned about how companies can help solve social problems. It has become a central issue in the strategic decision-making of organizations. As a result, football clubs have not escaped this trend.

ESG is a way for clubs to reconnect with their home regions. This is what has been happening with some clubs in the French Ligue 1 . The biggest clubs of European football have financial resources that allow them to attract fans from all around the world. They get the attention mainly from young people who have started to follow Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo on their cell phone screens. This has a worrying effect for the future of small clubs: young people have a tendency to support big (household) teams, usually foreign, before even thinking about the club from their city. Clubs find themselves with an aging fan base and finding it difficult to attract new fans. This is when ESG policy comes in as a way to reconnect clubs with their local population.

When football clubs show concern for their community it is easier to attract fans’ attention. The French club Le Havre AC has started to adopt social insertion policies to position itself as a popular and youth-focused club. The actions aim to develop a sense of belonging to the club and the city. In Le Havre, young people from the training center also participate in workshops and professional insertion ateliers. Another example comes from Reims. In the last years, the club has developed anti-discrimination policies, recycling campaigns, and even blood donations for the local hospital. 

For clubs that are already relevant in their home area, the ESG can help strengthen an internationalization strategy. Arsenal FC, for example, has worked with the charity Save the Children to improve living conditions in refugee camps in the Middle East. Manchester United has also used its fan groups in India to help flood victims in the Kerala area. There are several strategies that can be developed according to the history and moment of each club. 

Social policies can also help increase the club’s revenue. By impacting different communities surrounding a sports institution, the club can conquer new supporters and thus sell more official products. This kind of positioning can also attract new sponsors that share the same values and purposes. Adopting authentic social responsibility policies that make sense for the club is a great way to communicate and strengthen the brand. This seems to be a path for companies and also for sports institutions.