The Sporting Director in Soccer

3rd February 2020
The importance of a sporting director in a soccer team is now considered similar to even the best players. What does this person actually do? Do they have sports, administrative, or managing duties?

In the last few decades, the position of sporting director has started to gain more prestige within soccer management. Organizations consider them extremely important. So important, in fact, that the best of these professionals are sought out energetically as star players.

You might be wondering if you really understand the importance of sporting directors on a practical level. How significant are they to the goal of keeping soccer a highly competitive sport?

If you want more understanding of the importance of soccer managers, it’s fundamental that you know what they do. You should be aware of the functions and competencies associated with the sporting director. In the rest of this article, we’ll be looking at these aspects closely.

Sporting directors: definition and principal functions

Experts haven’t yet perfectly defined the nature and attributes of a sporting director in soccer. What’s more, experts, followers, and enthusiasts of the most popular sport on the planet disagree on what they do. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see impassioned discussions about this topic. You can often see this on sports shows on TV or even at social gatherings before a match.

While we’re still not able to gain a clear definition on these professionals, one thing is clear. That is you shouldn’t confuse a sporting director with a soccer coach. Both are related to the management of this sport’s human resources, it’s true. Nevertheless, they have very different attributes within the structure of soccer.

Concept and principal functions

In some countries, the sporting director is also known as a “football manager.” One such country is the United Kingdom. Generally, the broadest and most basic function of a sporting director is to manage a club’s human resources. Of course, it might not be a club. It could also be a national team or some other organization or association that’s involved with the sport.

Whoever holds this position becomes the person responsible for managing the athletes and the technical staff. That includes trainers and medical staff. These are the employees that comprise the human resources of any sports team.

People looking at charts at a table.

All of this means that a sporting director doesn’t necessarily have to work solely with sports clubs. They might be collaborating with colleges and universities with their own teams.

The sporting director in soccer: why they matter

In today’s soccer environment, sporting directors or managers are strengthening their positions as the closest figures to the management of a sports club or institution. Their functions and competencies have become a key piece of their organization. They’re able to bring about balance and stability, particularly to soccer clubs.

In the day-to-day stress of this sport, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the sporting director has become indispensable. That’s because they’re the ones responsible for making sure all the necessary resources and conditions are available. Their goal is to facilitate the maximum development of the human capital’s talent. They can produce better results for the club or institution they represent.

As such, the practical functions of the sporting director involve the management of everything. This includes all of the physical and non-physical resources that are so essential for their work. Only then can the work go ahead optimally.

This also means that they have to be ready to positively influence management decisions. Their objective in this sense is to prevent the management from making errors or inappropriate decisions.

Monchi is one of the most popular sporting directors.
Monchi is one of the most prestigious sporting directors in soccer today. (Image: Fox Sports)

Skills that a good sporting director needs

For optimal performance of the sporting director’s duties, it’s essential for them to have a great set of skills. Their communication, finance, administrative, and resource management skills should be top-notch. Aside from that, they should have command of sports law and sports medicine, among other topics.

Beyond this, organizations expect good managers to be able to understand various facets of the sport. They should comprehend the pillars, goals, and values of the world of soccer. These professionals should also have an understanding of the institution within which they work and its functions.

Conflict resolution

Sporting directors also need to have a comprehensive education and experience in sports. Aside from that, it’s important for them to be skillful with social relationships. In particular, they should know about conflict resolution.

In essence, in order for the sporting director to optimally fulfill their role, they have to keep excellent relationships. This also goes for everyone involved in the team: players, technical staff and management. Likewise, the sporting director should be able to help resolve misunderstandings and disagreements. When they can do this skillfully, they can avoid harming the club or its human input.

  • Centro de Estudios Superiores de Fútbol de España. 2018. El director deportivo en el fútbol. Extraído de: http://trainingfutbol.com/cesfutbol/directordeportivo3.pdf
  • Manual para Directores de desarrollo técnico. FIFA. Extraído de: https://resources.fifa.com/mm/document/footballdevelopment/technicalsupport/02/84/00/08/fifa_td_2016_s_low_spanish.pdf