February 10, 2015

World Cup Merchandise Sales Need To Benefit Grassroots Hockey Programs Worldwide

Back in 2009 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) made headlines when they banned many of national team hockey sweaters, specifically Hockey Canada's, for the Vancouver 2010 games. They accused such logos as being corporate logos and such unpaid logos are not be allowed in it's events, a policy the IOC started fully enforcing in 2008.

Back-to-back Olympic gold medals for both the men's and women's teams have allowed most of us to forget about it, but at the time it was a very controversial decision in this country.

The real motive behind IOC and COC's move was take more control of these popular logos. They would get a larger cut of every sale of jerseys, hats, t-shirts - anything that the logo could be pasted on.

At the time there was great fear that national federations such as Hockey Canada would be shutout from these lucrative revenues. Hockey Canada counts heavily on merchandise sales, said to be at that time as much as $10 million annually, to fund all grassroots hockey programs in the country.

Backroom deals were brokered though exact details were never made public as to how much member federations would be able to keep. But you know the IOC took a big chunk to line their pockets. None of that money went to grassroots athletics anywhere.

Fast forward to 2016, specifically the returning World Cup of Hockey tournament. It is very possible that we will see more new jerseys and logos, and the NHL will want a cut, too.

Everything the NHL is doing with the World Cup is actually designed with the Olympics in mind.

Many believe the end game is to exit the Olympics and present the World Cup as it's replacement. Others believe the World Cup is being used to pressure the IOC into concessions and revenue sharing with the NHL in return for the use of it's players.

If that is the case the NHL would be smart to gain national federation support in 2016 with merchandise sales. They could return the vast majority of revenues to the member federations in exchange for their support in the upcoming showdown with the IOC.

Regardless, hopefully the NHL does return revenues to member federations. Worldwide grassroots hockey funding should be a top concern of the National Hockey League. After all, they are the ultimate beneficiary.

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