International Sport and Leisure

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A marketing organization established in 1982, in Lucerne, Switzerland, by Adidas chief Horst Dassler, staffed at the top by Dassler's own personal assistant Klaus Hempel, and a recruit from Adidas itself, Jürgen Lenz. ISL revolutionized the football (soccer) marketing business, acting as the intermediary between La Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA, the governing body of world football) and the international companies most likely to seek sponsorship opportunities in world sport. Targeting exclusive sponsors for the World Cup, ISL generated unprecedented levels of income for FIFA, and went on to apply the same principles to the raising of global awareness of the Olympic brand; The Olympic Programme (TOP) revolutionized Olympic finances and infrastructure in turn. Broadcasting rights were also acquired by ISL.

Overreaching itself into sports beyond football and the Olympics, the company went bankrupt in 2001, though some of its top executives had already left to start their own businesses, including Hempel and Lenz, who established TEAM and implemented the marketing strategy underlying the reformatted European Cup/*UEFA Champions League. FIFA established its own in-house marketing group to take the place of ISL; the International Olympic Committee had already done so. ISL was implicated in dubious financial payments to its clients, administered by Dassler's former aide Jean-Marie Weber, some of which have been the focus of proceedings in the Swiss courts. ISL represented the deal-making practices of Dassler in a climate of negligible transparency, and this has tarnished the reputation of a company whose pioneering vision established sport marketing on an unprecedentedly worldwide level.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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