Football Development Institute

The role of the Sports Director in European football


In 2023, we launched our first ever Research project, led by the Football Development Institute. We aim to present a summary of the study by the end of the year.

Football Development Institute has created a proprietary definition and a proprietary position profile of the Sports Director. Sports Director is – according to our vision – the most important position in the Club, with strategic status. The function should combine the following aspects: football intellect (substantive), concept, strategy, structure and organization, football concept, management, communication, finance, technology and psychology. The discussed specialized role should be responsible for long-term sports development on the basis of a complex “Club Development Model”, as well as for stimulating the comprehensive evolution of the Club.

Here are some facts about the ongoing “Research project”:

  1. Project start date: May 2022
  2. Duration of the “Research project”: 12-14 months
  3. Scope of the study: 25 European countries, 50 leagues
  4. Form of the survey: questionnaire with multiple choice answers
  5. Presentation of content effects: publication of a professional study, including a qualitative and qualitative-quantitative summary | in addition, conclusions from the FDI perspective
  6. Languages of publication included: Polish, English, German
  7. Access to publication: open
  8. Theses formulated by the FDI:


Substantive problems:

  • The role of the Sports Director in Europe has not yet been truly defined
  • The position lacks a Europe-wide content framework: there is a lack of systematics and a complex idea behind this key function (definition, position profile)
  • European standard does not exist
  • Giving the role of Sports Director a low importance


Impact on education:

  • specialized role without a European certification system
  • no education system in Europe for the role of Sports Director
  • lack of real opportunities for sports directors to expand their knowledge


Practical implications:

  • Clubs frequently do not see the need to include this role in the structure (lack of awareness and knowledge of managers)
  • The role of the Sports Director is being deprecated
  • the most common position characteristic in Europe is “team squad planner”
  • European Clubs unstably interpret the discussed role
  • The Sports Director does not have his own team
  • lack of a complex Specialist profile (Sports Director) in the Clubs
  • Clubs are recruiting unprofessionally for the position of Sports Director
  • Clubs do not receive substantive support in terms of “Club Identity”, “Club Development Model” and “Sports Director”
  • The substantive quality of the Specialists performing the Sports Director role is deficient
  • The problems associated with the Sports Director role have a negative impact on a number of other football aspects


Destructive effect:

The inadequate approach to the Sports Director function, the lack of a content-based definition and position profile for this specialized role, problems in the educational area, and all the negative consequences of the aforementioned disadvantages have a massive impact on the low level of European football.