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SBJ/December 13-18, 2010/In-Depth
The 50 most influential list, 21-30
Published December 13, 2010
The most powerful man in the world's most popular game rose to the presidency of FIFA in 1998 and continues to hold the position that makes him the leader of a sport played in more than 200 countries. Blatter sets the agenda for FIFA and, therefore, the policies for overseeing and administering the sport. He took the World Cup to South Africa, where it played a final that was watched by more than 700 million viewers worldwide, but FIFA's recent vote giving the 2022 World Cup to Qatar no doubt cost Blatter some points in the U.S.
Executive Vice President,
Sales & Marketing
Executive Vice President,
Sean Bratches and John Skipper are the yin and yang of ESPN, seemingly attached at the hip. This was never more apparent than this fall during the company's deal with Time Warner Cable. On one hand, Bratches crafted a deal that kept the revenue flowing in, one that persuaded the cable operator to pay for broadband content for the first time. But Bratches could never have done the deal without the content Skipper acquired and developed, which includes creating two new ESPN-branded channels.
In a recent presentation, Adidas chief Herbert Hainer laid out ambitious plans for 45 to 50 percent growth by 2015. Adidas has achieved a solid 2010, based on strong World Cup results, improved sales in China and a turnaround at its long-unfocused Reebok brand. But can Hainer keep the momentum going for five years?
It would be a mistake to solely cite ownership of Wasserman Media Group as the reason the 36-year-old makes this list. Instead, it's the respect that Casey Wasserman has in a number of influential spheres — political, social, entertainment and sports — that does it. He's connected to key decision-makers who help shape pop culture, sits on powerful boards, and is highly sought after on the fundraising circuit. And he's playing a lead role in bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles. All this comes as he continues to grow WMG.
A year ago, Jim Delany and the Big Ten decided to expand. Today, the ripple effects of that decision continue to get bigger — and not just with the Big Ten cherry-picking Nebraska away from the Big 12. The Pac-10 tried to top that move, the SEC and ACC said publicly they would counter anything the Big Ten did, the WAC has all but been eliminated, and the Big East is trying to hustle up enough might so the Big Ten can't raid it in the future. The college landscape has changed drastically, and Delany and the Big Ten — along with its network — have spearheaded the entire evolution.
With Fenway Park renovations now largely complete and the Red Sox, NESN and Fenway Sports Group each top-tier entities in their respective fields, John Henry in 2010 looked across the pond for further growth, leading NESV's high-profile $476 million purchase of Liverpool FC. Much needs to be done to revive the struggling soccer franchise and its outdated stadium, but early bets are Henry will find success where many American owners of EPL clubs have not.
NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver is taking a lead position in the league's labor negotiations, a role that only builds on Silver's already sizable influence in the sport. It's a sign of the amount of trust his boss, David Stern, and the league's 30 owners have in Silver, who stands as the heir apparent whenever Stern decides to retire.
This year brought significant change both above and below Tim Brosnan, with MLB President and COO Bob DuPuy and sponsorship executives John Brody and Ari Roitman all departing. But Brosnan, as he has been for years, remained a constant, overseeing baseball's broadcasting, sponsorship, licensing and international businesses at or near peak levels. A new lawsuit from longtime corporate partner Anheuser-Busch and a spate of sponsorship renewals, however, present potentially major thorns moving into 2011.
Vice President of Media, Sports
and Entertainment Marketing
When InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch in 2008, there were questions about whether sports would still be a priority. After the importance the FIFA World Cup played this year, along with the hundreds of millions the "new" A-B paid to get its NFL league rights back from MillerCoors, there can be little doubt of sports' priority at the world's biggest brewer. Representing A-B's domestic side is Mark Wright, while Maarten Albarda influences how much of the world outside of the U.S. thinks "This Bud's for you."
Billy Hunter has been through a lockout before, when he took the job as head of the NBA players union two years before the 1998-99 lockout. The NBA collective-bargaining agreement expires in June, and Hunter faces the very real possibility of leading the players through another lockout, as the league is asking for a new economic system in which player pay is cut 30 to 40 percent.