This summer, the eyes of the world turn to Russia for the hosting of one of the great sporting events, the FIFA World Cup.

The event comes at a time of high tension between Russia and the West, with accusations of election rigging, cyber-attacks and assassinations on foreign soil – not to mention the sport-specific issues of hooliganism and corrupt bureaucratic processes – making this the most heavily politicised World Cup in our recent history.

‘Soft power’ – a nation’s ability to influence through attraction or persuasion – has always played a role in the participation and hosting of these events. At the end of 2017, however, a new form of influence was identified by the National Endowment for Democracy; ‘sharp power’. Sharp power is defined as a form of influence centred on ‘manipulation and distraction’, piercing or penetrating information environments. Recent examples include Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee, and NotPetya, the cyber-attack on Ukrainian national resources.

The emergence of sharp power, and its ability to undermine a nation’s soft power can have serious secondary implications for businesses. For businesses involved in sport – from those buying advertising space to those entering lucrative partnership agreements with individuals or teams – the emergence of sharp power could fundamentally alter the risk-landscape, and decision-making processes must change accordingly.

To find out more, download the report below.