Real Madrid players celebrate following the UEFA Champions League final match in Paris in 2022 © Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images
Real Madrid players celebrate following the UEFA Champions League final match in Paris in 2022 © Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

UEFA working ‘like firefighters’ to battle inflation

12 April 2023

The governing body of European football UEFA said it is “working like firefighters” and communicating with its suppliers to battle soaring costs. 

UEFA procurement manager Francesco Basso said the football body, which represents Europe’s national associations, is connecting with suppliers more closely and introducing contract clauses specifically to mitigate inflation.

Talking at the Ivalua NOW conference in Paris, Basso said: “We are suffering as well from the inflation situation right now. Especially due to the nature of our business, we're working in the events business. We are moving every year to different venues, different cities, and different countries. 

“Most of the time, we don't have visibility into the long term, so we really have worked more like firefighters than probably teams have in the food industry for example, where they can oversee supply chains a little bit more. What we're trying to do is just to speak with our suppliers, the more so we can.” 

He noted the forthcoming Euros tournament – the football competition held between national European football clubs and the biggest of its kind in the continent – is being held next year in Germany, a country which is facing difficulties due to high inflation. 

To counter this the body decided to “include some indexation clauses into the contracts to reduce the minimum risk of inflation”. 

UEFA’s procurement department was only formally established at the end of 2018, he said. 

“The target was, of course, to increase transparency, increase compliance, decrease risk and get all these benefits, and also increase the revenues at the end because we want to reduce the spend on our events. 

“That's why a couple of years ago, we started with the project and we have now covered 100% of our spend, so we have full coverage of the P2P process. Now that we have a full team onboard as well we are covering more and more contract management, supplier relationship management and source to contract.”

Despite the department being in its infancy, its profile has already grown drastically within the business. The pandemic, he said, was a “game changer” for the procurement, as was Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

UEFA made the decision to relocate last year’s Champions League final from St Petersburg in Russia to Paris three months before the event was due to take place in May in protest at Russia’s invasion, allowing the procurement department to step up. 

Basso said: “The pandemic was a game changer. It happened just in the middle of the process where we were introducing procurement in our organisation. And due to the shocking events with the pandemic then the war, we had to push to move the Champions League final last year in Paris with three months notice after what happened unfortunately. 

“It was really shocking, but this helped us to be recognised really as an internal business value added partner for our organisation, and bring us in the lead on procurement activity.”

Procurement has helped the organisation reach wider business goals, he outlined. 

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