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World Cup 2018: What Can Business Learn From Soccer?

Business and soccer have more in common than you might think

Thu Jun 14 2018

BusinessBecause
What do scoring goals in soccer and designing successful business models have in common?

Gary Lineker, England striker of the 1980s, once said: ‘Soccer is a simple game. 22 players chase a ball for 90 minutes and, in the end, the Germans win.’ England fans might think he’s not far off.

In reality, soccer is more complex than that. Soccer itself is big business. There’s even an MBA program on soccer—the University of Liverpool’s Football Industries MBA is the top-ranked sports MBA in the UK.

Now, in the lead up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, two lecturers from WU Executive Academy in Vienna—Thomas Funke and Thorsten Lambertus—have taken a closer look at the links between soccer and innovative business models.

“Once you take a closer look, you will realize that there are some fundamentally important things you should pay attention to before taking to the pitch if you want to win,” Thomas, serial entrepreneur and co-director of TechQuartier Frankfurt, explains. “The good news is you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do that. And this also applies to developing business models.”

Here’s Thomas and Thorsten’s three steps to achieving success in soccer and in business:


1. Define your strategy but be flexible in your tactics

In soccer, a wide variety of entirely different strategies can lead to success, including, for example, the ‘tiki-taka’ style of the Spaniards; having an airtight defense and relying on swift counter-attacks like the Italians; short passing and much movement; or trying to keep possession of the ball for as long as possible.

thomas-funke

When it comes to developing new business models, the right strategy makes all the difference between success and failure. “That is not to say, however, that you should not be as flexible as possible during the game,” says Thomas. “There are countless variations of the 4-4-2 formation, and adjustments can quickly be made as circumstances change. Your business model has to be just as flexible. You need to perceive evolving realities and predictable events that occur over time as opportunities and capitalize on them.”

2. Decide on a pattern

Prior to a game of soccer, the names and playing positions of the individual team members are a well-kept secret. “The formation—the playing pattern—provides the opposing team with valuable information as to your strategy on the pitch, directly influencing the other side's tactics,” Thomas explains.

In the context of business modeling, patterns play a key role too. They are not only an invaluable source of inspiration during conceptualization but also the logic behind the arrangement of a company's building blocks. Customer data, for instance, is widely regarded as the new “black gold” of today, and even more so, tomorrow. Frequently, however, we do not even know that companies base their main sources of revenue on customer data and that the entire logic of their business models is, hence, geared towards this pattern.

3. Line up your team

How well the members of your team collaborate and get on with one another has a direct influence on whether or not your strategy will be successful.

thorsten-soccer-mba

“In soccer, all 11 players depend directly on one another,” Thorsten, a senior team member at Fraunhofer Company Building & Venture Incubation, explains. “While Real Madrid builds its strategy on the pitch around Cristiano Ronaldo, it would never be able to succeed without its holding midfielder. When it comes to developing business models, the situation is no different.

“In any team, the members need to be assigned certain functional roles, such as striker, defender or goalkeeper. At the end of the day, the big picture, the social roles and the collaboration of the team in implementing the business model make the difference that really matters.”

Student Reviews

University of Liverpool School of Management

Karan

Verified

28/09/2023

On Campus

My experience in UOL

Well I won't tell you about all the great things about this university. But I'll just tell you my honest experience about it. I have visited almost all the places here. This university knows how take care of their students. Be it any aspect, be it career and placement department, be it societies, be it organising committees, they know what all issues a student can face and they are ready with the solutions already. Professors here are so welcoming. You can literarily bother them ample number of times but they will still be so nice with you. They actually put a lot of efforts to make letures more fun. They try their best to focus on each and every student and check if they are comfortable or now. Coming to the offerings. They know that there will be a lot of international students and there will be a lot of issues they will face in adjustment over here. So they organised a lot of events, distributed a lot of free vouchers just to make students feel welcomed over here. Trust me if you are looking for a Uni for yourself or for someone, do add this one on your priority list.

Hani

Verified

26/09/2023

On Campus

Fantastic school

The lecturers are incredibly experienced in their field of study, and it shows when they teach. They know what they are talking about, and that instills a level of trust that you have made the right choice coming to this university. They are supportive and charismatic - exactly how lecturers should be! The accommodation is all fantastic too. Homely, comfortable, so close to campus. Even Greenbank, which is a 15 minute bus journey from campus, has its perks (heavily discounted bus pass - from £400 to £60 and free gym membership). There are so many societies too! Literally one for everything. During the society fair, they were all so welcoming which is so great to see. The lecture theatres are all top-notch too. It feels so modernistic. It really feels like I have had a big step up from sixth form to university. I made the right choice by coming to UoL!

Keira

Verified

10/09/2023

On Campus

Original RedBrick Review!!

The Marketing Course at this uni a great course with exceptional industry connections - for example a brand assessment centre from The Hut Group and an assessment centre at Anfield Football Stadium! The campus is great as it is all connected and everything can be found there - so whether you are a Starbucks or Cafe Nero kind of person the campus has everything. Freshers is great with campus tours, city walks and course talks to connect you with fellow coursemates. Halls was also a great experience - I loved the halls packs where you can get free tshirts, baking kits and we even got free dominoes pizzas!!

Francesca

Verified

5/09/2023

On Campus

Enjoyed every aspect of it!

My experience studying Marketing at the University of Liverpool has been amazing! All the lecturers and students have been so lovely and helpful. The management school building is my favourite place to study. I would recommend studying Marketing at the University of Liverpool because the content is so engaging and the assignments are creative.

Ramy

Verified

11/07/2023

Online

Quality

Perfect learning methodologies and curriculums, the most i liked about my learning experience with University of Liverpool is the professionalism, in delivering the subjects and helping the students gaining more knowledge.

Jessica

Verified

30/04/2023

On Campus

Amazing course

The marketing course at UOL is great the lecturers are helpful and provide in-person and online resources to succeed in assignments, and the careers department is extremely helpful. The modules are all relevant and have expanded my understanding of the marketing industry and consumer behaviour, social media and so on

Imogen

Verified

30/04/2023

On Campus

The Best Experience

Currently in my Second Year studying Marketing at the University of Liverpool. Due to the big student culture in Liverpool, you soon feel completely at ease and at home. Staff are extremely helpful - there is always opportunities to ask for additional support/guidance. Each module is clear and well organised - this definitely helps in first year when it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the new workload. It’s very easy to find your way around due to it being a campus university as everything is in close proximity. I lived at Greenbank accommodation in my first year and the staff are so helpful and make you feel very well settled. There is a huge community feel and the modules are interactive meaning making friends is much easier and a lot less intimidating. If you’re considering attending this university and I honestly couldn’t recommend more - you’ll have the best experience!

Student

Verified

6/02/2023

On Campus

Culture

One of my favourite things about this university is the diversity of its people. I met so many different people during my time here, from all different backgrounds and experiences. Not only did these people provide me with insight and knowledge into their own cultures and beliefs, they also allowed me to learn about and understand different ways of life that I would have otherwise never been exposed to. The tutors were also incredibly supportive on this course and allowed me to excel.

India

Verified

29/11/2022

On Campus

Great university!

I did my undergrad in film studies at LJMU and I honestly could not recommend it enough. It has the perfect mix of practical and theory work that prepares you for any job possible in the film industry, from lighting tech to AD. The university lecturers were also very attentive, and I felt comfortable enough with them to seek their help if I ever had an issue or concern, academic or personal. LJMU gave me experiences I would not have got anywhere else, offering summer placements completely free that broadened my horizons. The fact the campus is interspersed around the city also makes it very convenient.

Student

Verified

27/12/2023

On Campus

Law Program

UoL has been a great school to attend so far. I attend UoL's campus in the Cayman Islands, Truman Bodden Law School. Being on such a small island, it has been great with the personal face-to-face with lecturers in understanding topics.

Karan

Verified

28/09/2023

On Campus

My experience in UOL

Well I won't tell you about all the great things about this university. But I'll just tell you my honest experience about it. I have visited almost all the places here. This university knows how take care of their students. Be it any aspect, be it career and placement department, be it societies, be it organising committees, they know what all issues a student can face and they are ready with the solutions already. Professors here are so welcoming. You can literarily bother them ample number of times but they will still be so nice with you. They actually put a lot of efforts to make letures more fun. They try their best to focus on each and every student and check if they are comfortable or now. Coming to the offerings. They know that there will be a lot of international students and there will be a lot of issues they will face in adjustment over here. So they organised a lot of events, distributed a lot of free vouchers just to make students feel welcomed over here. Trust me if you are looking for a Uni for yourself or for someone, do add this one on your priority list.

Hani

Verified

26/09/2023

On Campus

Fantastic school

The lecturers are incredibly experienced in their field of study, and it shows when they teach. They know what they are talking about, and that instills a level of trust that you have made the right choice coming to this university. They are supportive and charismatic - exactly how lecturers should be! The accommodation is all fantastic too. Homely, comfortable, so close to campus. Even Greenbank, which is a 15 minute bus journey from campus, has its perks (heavily discounted bus pass - from £400 to £60 and free gym membership). There are so many societies too! Literally one for everything. During the society fair, they were all so welcoming which is so great to see. The lecture theatres are all top-notch too. It feels so modernistic. It really feels like I have had a big step up from sixth form to university. I made the right choice by coming to UoL!

Keira

Verified

10/09/2023

On Campus

Original RedBrick Review!!

The Marketing Course at this uni a great course with exceptional industry connections - for example a brand assessment centre from The Hut Group and an assessment centre at Anfield Football Stadium! The campus is great as it is all connected and everything can be found there - so whether you are a Starbucks or Cafe Nero kind of person the campus has everything. Freshers is great with campus tours, city walks and course talks to connect you with fellow coursemates. Halls was also a great experience - I loved the halls packs where you can get free tshirts, baking kits and we even got free dominoes pizzas!!

Francesca

Verified

5/09/2023

On Campus

Enjoyed every aspect of it!

My experience studying Marketing at the University of Liverpool has been amazing! All the lecturers and students have been so lovely and helpful. The management school building is my favourite place to study. I would recommend studying Marketing at the University of Liverpool because the content is so engaging and the assignments are creative.

Ramy

Verified

11/07/2023

Online

Quality

Perfect learning methodologies and curriculums, the most i liked about my learning experience with University of Liverpool is the professionalism, in delivering the subjects and helping the students gaining more knowledge.

Jessica

Verified

30/04/2023

On Campus

Amazing course

The marketing course at UOL is great the lecturers are helpful and provide in-person and online resources to succeed in assignments, and the careers department is extremely helpful. The modules are all relevant and have expanded my understanding of the marketing industry and consumer behaviour, social media and so on

Imogen

Verified

30/04/2023

On Campus

The Best Experience

Currently in my Second Year studying Marketing at the University of Liverpool. Due to the big student culture in Liverpool, you soon feel completely at ease and at home. Staff are extremely helpful - there is always opportunities to ask for additional support/guidance. Each module is clear and well organised - this definitely helps in first year when it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the new workload. It’s very easy to find your way around due to it being a campus university as everything is in close proximity. I lived at Greenbank accommodation in my first year and the staff are so helpful and make you feel very well settled. There is a huge community feel and the modules are interactive meaning making friends is much easier and a lot less intimidating. If you’re considering attending this university and I honestly couldn’t recommend more - you’ll have the best experience!

Student

Verified

6/02/2023

On Campus

Culture

One of my favourite things about this university is the diversity of its people. I met so many different people during my time here, from all different backgrounds and experiences. Not only did these people provide me with insight and knowledge into their own cultures and beliefs, they also allowed me to learn about and understand different ways of life that I would have otherwise never been exposed to. The tutors were also incredibly supportive on this course and allowed me to excel.

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