Which nation has the most political clout when it comes to international sports? If you guessed the United States, you’d be correct. And it’s not just jingoism or patriotism talking: this comes off international research.
A recently updated study entitled, “Formal Sports Political Power Index,” conducted by the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) attempted the challenging task of quantifying how much sports political power is held by individual nations. This analysis is based on a calculation of 1.673 members from executive committees in 120 of the most important international and European sports federations. Information was collected between July and September of 2015.
The original goal of the analysis, according to the DIF, was to determine if Denmark is currently represented at level, under level or above level in international sports politics by comparing the number of elected sports leaders from Denmark to the number of elected sports leaders from comparable countries. The analysis was achieved by assigning a point value to a country’s positions in international sports groups, with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) assigned the greatest number of points, followed by Member of the IOC Executive Board, President of an international Olympic federation, and presidents and members of the EOC and down the line to FIFA officials. The report’s authors noted that due to the assumption that federations with Olympic status have more power than non-Olympic federations regarding economy and media exposure, these were weighted higher.
On the international index, the United States ranked in the top position, followed by France, the UK, Italy, Germany, Canada, Russia, Spain, China and Australia. The U.S. also topped the list in the 2013 Power Index Ranking, but gained an additional six points in the 2015 version. France surpassed the UK and Italy to reach second place.
“USA is still on top of the index and increased its influence by six points since 2013,” noted the report’s authors. “France has a few more positions in the international federations than UK, Germany and Italy, which explains the growing gap between the four countries compared to the European index. That results in a 2nd place for France in the International index.”
According to Michael Pavitt writing for Inside the Games, the increase in the U.S.’s position may be partially explained by American David Haggerty being elected President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to replace Italy’s Francesco Ricci Bitti last September, as well as Anita DeFrantz’s appointment to the IOC Executive Board.
The report’s authors noted that with six out of the first ten nations in the international index being European, Europe continue to assert significant global influence. The report also notes that there is “room for improvement” for Denmark to improve its ranking in time for the next report, and concludes that “power primarily is focused on candidates who come from countries with a democratic culture.”
The DIF says it plans to repeat the analysis and issue another report on the results in 2017.