Yesterday marked the kickoff of a new education program: 'Leadership in Sport: societal value(s) in professional football.' This program is offered by the Utrecht University in collaboration with Eredivisie CV. The six-month course, designed for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) managers from Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie clubs, aims to further professionalize the field.
Eredivisie CV and the Utrecht University place great importance on the development of societal values in professional football and the personal growth of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) managers. Following a successful 2-day pilot in the 2022/’23 season, this season saw the launch of the program "Leadership in Sport: societal value(s) in professional football."
Throughout this course, attention is given to the role of the CSR manager, trends and developments, competencies, and personal leadership. The program runs from January to June 2024 and, starting this season, will be offered annually as part of a broader collaboration between Eredivisie CV and the Utrecht University, specifically the Utrecht University School of Governance (USG). The inaugural class consists of 14 CSR managers from Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie clubs. Read more about the program here (in Dutch).
An emerging and growing discipline
In recent years, organizations are increasingly expected to contribute to societal challenges by addressing themes such as sustainability and inclusivity (SCP, 2023). Moreover, there is a growing demand for accountability and transparency regarding the impact on public values, driven in part by increasing regulations like the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).
The heightened interest in public values and regulatory frameworks means that the creation of these values plays an increasingly prominent role in the football landscape. In the 2022/'23 season, Eredivisie clubs invested 5.5 million euros in CSR projects (compared to 4.6 million in the 2021/'22 season). With over 109 full-time equivalents (FTE), averaging 6 FTE per club, there is now a distinct and growing field within the clubs. In the 2022/'23 season, the total number of social FTE in the Eredivisie increased by a third (33.4%) compared to the previous season. These investments and the commitment of club staff to social goals have materialized in 165 CSR projects involving 109,447 participants.
These developments create more opportunities for further expansion and professionalization of public value(s) in professional football, but they also underscore the need to position these values within the football context. In addition to public values, sporting, cultural, and commercial values play essential roles in professional football, sometimes creating tensions between them. With this new education program, Eredivisie CV and the Utrecht University aim to contribute to the continued professionalization of this discipline within sports. Both organizations seek to enhance educational and developmental opportunities in sports, making the program open to other target groups in the future.
About the collaboration
In November 2021, Eredivisie entered into a 3-year partnership agreement with the Utrecht University. The collaboration aims to support the Eredivisie and its clubs in the professionalization and monitoring of their CSR policies. This support includes activities such as research, training, and education. Over the past two seasons, the collaboration has yielded a joint impact report on the CSR projects in the Eredivisie. Additionally, Eredivisie clubs have participated in workshops covering topics such as the Theory of Change and monitoring. Furthermore, several students have been involved in societal projects within the Eredivisie as part of this collaborative effort.