CSR in Swedish Football: A multiple case study of four clubs in Allsvenskan

Lina Nilsson
Södertörn University

The question of companies’ engagement in social responsibility, called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), has been widely debated in research since the 1900s. However, the research connecting CSR to sport did not start until the beginning of the 2000s, meaning that there are still many gaps in sport research that have to be filled. One such gap is research on CSR in a Swedish football context. Accordingly, the purpose of this present study was firstly to examine how and why Swedish football clubs – organised as non-profit associations or sports corporations – work with CSR, and secondly whether or not there are differences in the CSR work of the two organisational forms. A multiple case study of four clubs in the Swedish top football league, Allsvenskan, was carried out, examining the CSR work – i.e. the CSR concept and activities, the motives for engaging in CSR and the role of the stakeholders – in detail. In addition, the CSR actions of all clubs of Allsvenskan were briefly investigated. The findings of the study showed that the four clubs of the multiple case study had directed their CSR commitment in different directions and performed different activities. As a consequence, they had developed different competences and competitive advantages. Furthermore, the findings suggested that the motives for engaging in CSR were a social agenda; pressure from stakeholders; and financial advantages. For the two clubs organised as sports corporations, the financial motives were of greater importance than for the non-profit associations, who instead highlighted the social motives. Accordingly, the study has helped filling the gaps in the research field by expanding the knowledge about CSR in a Swedish football context. Sport managers can utilize this study to gain more knowledge about football-related CSR activities and also for finding inspiration for future CSR actions.

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LINA NILSSON has an MSc in Business Administration and a BSc in Sport Management at Södertörn University. Her master thesis investigated CSR in Swedish club football. This article is  a summary of the thesis. 

Read more on idrottsforum.org

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