Sport in Italy generates 3% of the GDP. But public investment is needed

With 35 million fans, including 15.5 million regular practitioners (nearly a third of the more than 59 million Italian citizens), the sport generated 78.8 billion euros in revenue in Italy in 2021, a figure equivalent to 3% of the country’s GDP. This is the most important indication that emerges from the first Sports System Observatory created by the Banca Ifis Research Department respond to the European Commission’s request to the Member States to measure the economic dimension of all the components of sport and to offer decision maker public and private data and information essential for strategic decision-making.

Illustrated yesterday at the Coni headquarters in the presence of Giovanni Malagopresident of Coni, and of Ernesto Furstenberg Fassio, vice-president of Banca Ifis, the observatory shed light on a period of three years, thus highlighting the effects of the pandemic in the world of sport. Especially in 2020, where due to the various confinements and shutdowns imposed, the sector has inevitably suffered.

How much is Italian sport worth

Given that in 2019, sport generated 95.9 billion euros (nearly 20 billion euros more than in 2021), with an impact on Italian GDP of 3.6% and on the world of work of 389,000 resources, the observatory considered the pre-pandemic year as the average base year to look into the immediate future.

Emphasizing that the “grassroots” operators (amateur and professional sports associations and clubs, sports promotion bodies, federations and factory management companies) represented the main component of the sector: they had 74,000 realities which generated 46.4 billion euros (48% of the total) and employed 228,000 people, with an impact of 1.65% on Italian GDP. Sports associations and clubs are primarily responsible for the crisis: their turnover has fallen by 19% in just one year and has fallen from 40.2 billion euros to 32.5 billion (in 2020).

Revenues generated in 2019 by other sectors

  • The sector that includes companies in the media sector, sports betting and services related to the use of sporting events (transport, hospitalityRestoration, purchases) generated 22.6 billion (23% of the Italian sports system, 0.89% of the national GDP).
  • The sector which includes manufacturers of clothing, equipment and sports vehicles generated a turnover of 17.3 billion (18% of the income of the Italian sports system, 0.47% of the GDP): it is acts about 10,000 companies and 161,000 employees
  • the indirect value generated by sport for the Italian economy and society (called positive externalities) was almost 10.1 billion euros (11% of the value generated by the sport system with an impact on Italian GDP of 0.56%). Of these, about 5.3 billion represent savings for the national health system in the treatment of certain diseases (infarction and coronary artery disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc.). In 2020, this value has fallen to 2 billion euros.

Invest in sports

To return to pre-pandemic levels and support the development of the whole sector, the public and private investments. According to the Observatory, there is a multiplier effect on the average reference year: 1 million of public investments mobilize nearly 9 million of private resources which generate an annual turnover of 20 million2.3 times higher than private investment.

Public investments have a particularly high driving force, since sport adds to production and consumption specific elements related to well-being, entertainment and health, capable of amplifying the economic value it generates. However, it is not possible to disregard the combination of public expenditure with the private resources deployed by sports clubs and the management of sports facilities. To give an example, in 2019, compared to a public expenditure of 4.7 billion, major sport system operators have shifted resources to 41.8 billion between the costs of raw materials, services, personnel and the depreciation of tangible and intangible assets.

The role of football

Investing in sport, of course, also means gaining in competitiveness. An aspect that inevitably sticks to the panel with the debacle of the Italian national football team, excluded for the second consecutive time from the World Cup. An international scene that would inevitably have guaranteed a significant social impact and employment, as well as a significant economic impact for the activities and associations involved. Also because football, as pointed out by the Observatory, is the most practiced sport in Italy (34% among those over 18) and also the one with the greatest number of public contributions. Swimming, for example, which is the second most practiced discipline (29%), collects less than a third of the public contributions received from football.

READ ALSO: “From triumphs to decline: the economic roots of Italy’s problems in football (and beyond)”

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