SIGA 2021

Athlete activism: brand value and integrity

A round table panel at SIGA Sports Integrity week debated the effects of athletes promoting causes and becoming involved in political debate.

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Athlete activism: brand value and integrity

Social media platforms offer direct access for fans to athletes and vice versa, which is having a significant impact with athletes able to develop their own brand value, which can then be monetised.

However, above and beyond simple fan engagement and brand boosting, athletes are also using their platforms for good, promoting specific causes as well as pushing for higher standards of integrity, both in their own sport, across the wider sporting world and society too.

A prime example of this from the UK was Manchester United player Marcus Rashford's campaign for free meals for children, which put huge pressure on government and led to policy changes.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Leeds United v Manchester UnitedFILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Leeds United v Manchester United - Elland Road, Leeds, Britain - April 25, 2021 Manchester United's Marcus Rashford

Sport Integrity Week curtain comes down

SIGA's Sport Integrity Week, which finished today, held an online round table discussion to look at the effects of athletes building their own brands, their activism and the potential long-term consequences, both individually and societally, for athletes becoming involved in political debate.

SIGA (Sport Integrity Global Alliance) is the world’s “largest coalition in the field of sports governance and integrity”, which seeks to “bring about meaningful reforms and enhance the integrity of all sports”, according to the organisation, of which this newspaper is a media partner

On the panel, chaired by Pedro Pinto, the founder and CEO of Empower Sports, were football legend Louis Saha, currently Founder & CEO of Axis Stars and SIGA Champion; Female Super-Welterweight Commonwealth Boxing Champion Stacey Copeland; Soccer goalkeeper for Crystal Palace Chloe Morgan, who is also a lawyer; and Bostjan Nachbar, managing director of EuroLEague Players Association.

Palace keeper Chloe Morgan felt that particularly within women's sport the activism from athletes was definitely growing citing the huge influence that young sportswomen such as Emma Raducanu and Naomi Osake hold in focusing on key social issues concluding that in a short period of time female athletes 'have come a long way'.

Saha: "Politicians are out of touch"

The former Man United, Fulham and Everton player Louis Saha concurred with Morgan claiming that there was never a better time for athletes to use their role via social media platforms to influence adding that being prepared and educated were key ingredients for every athlete.The former French international felt that politicians are out of touch with the emerging generation and are unable to communicate with them which gives the clout and impact of the message from athletes even more gravitas.