The game of football and business

Football is a sport of anticipation, team play, co-ordination, strategy, physical prowess and mental strength. Here winning is everything and coming second means nothing! There are a number of parallels that an organization can analyse and implement from a game of football. Let us look at, offence, defence and flanking – three of football’s most fundamental strategies with regards to tactics of marketing and brand positioning. Below is a novice analysis of some of the similarities of football and business strategies.


One of the most important qualities required of a football player is to always keep the goal in focus. The greatest goals are scored by strikers that keep an eye on the ball while making the run towards goal. Focus, in business involves the complex tasks of segmenting the market and targeting a specific audience. A business’s success requires it to hold the customer’s attention, keep their needs in prime focus and gain a positive customer perception from the communication directed their way.

Timing is of the essence

A player’s advantage in a goal scoring position is lost if the pass comes too early or late. A forward holds the ball and moves forward till he or a fellow striker covers the distance to reach a goal scoring position. Counter-attack, also being an essential ploy to offence, holds timing at a principle position. The defenders have to pass that ball as soon as possible to the offensive units to make sure the opposing defence is caught off-guard. Similarly, in a business, launching products or campaigns in a timely manner before the competition has a major impact on the market and customers.

Scoring goals is the primary objective of the game

Offence in business principally means outselling or out-performing competition through the means of direct and aggressive strategy. While in football, a striker constantly tests the competence of the defence and goalkeeper, a business constantly strives to market products that are preferred over a competitor’s. A striker constantly pressurises the defender forcing him to make mistakes or step on his wrong foot so he can weave past him. Consider a play where a striker is a brand and the defender marking the striker is the competition. In this scenario, the defender tries to cover the distance and positions that the striker may use to score the goal. The striker uses his footwork and skills to deceive the defender and position himself in a way that gives him enough room to score the goal. Similarly, a successful organization positions itself in such a way, so as to position itself conquering its own niche market segment. Using innovative ways that improve and market products that cater to an evolving market is the way to retain a customer.

Planning all aspects of the offensive attack is what makes it successful. Anticipating the capabilities of the opposition is of immense importance too while planning an attack. Using the strength of the team to capitalize on the weakness of the opponent is only possible through rigorous prior preparation. Planning only covers half a dimension of the game. The other half is left to execution. It’s not possible without the 11 players on field being in tune with the strategy decided as a team. Everyone has a small part to play in this and a team is only as strong as its weakest link.

Thus, business like football involves leveraging ones strengths to capitalize the competitions’ weakness while at the same time safeguarding one’s own weaknesses.

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