Meet Asia’s 10 most powerful people in sports for 2017

2017 has been a phenomenal year for sports in Asia, and the past 12 months have really been a treat for sports fans in general. These 10 big names have led their respective organizations with unparalleled passion and business sense. Let’s examine the 10 most influential sports leaders in Asia in 2017.

1) Gianni Infantino, FIFA.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – DECEMBER 01: FIFA President Gianni Infantino talks to the media during a talk show presentation prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Draw at the Kremlin on December 1, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Gianni Infantino is a football administrator and the current President of FIFA.

The FIFA World Cup is an international football association and tournament held every four years. Men’s football is arguably the most popular sport in the entire world and the same is true for Asia. The sport retains large numbers in viewership and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Countries like Singapore, Korea and Australia all follow football religiously.

2) Adam Silver, NBA

OAKLAND, CA – OCTOBER 17: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during the Golden State Warriors 2017 NBA Championship ring ceremony at ORACLE Arena on October 17, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Former American lawyer and businessman, Adam Silver, is the current Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The NBA is the world’s premiere Basketball proving ground, with the sport’s best players competing in a league comprising of 30 teams. Basketball is an immensely popular sport in Asian nations such as China, the Philippines, and Japan, among others. The NBA holds offseason and exhibition overseas games — games played outside of the United States — every so often, to bring the top brand of Basketball to Asia.

3) Chatri Sityodtong, ONE Championship

Chatri Sityodtong (Photo by: ONE Championship)

When billionaire Chatri Sityodtong came up with the idea for ONE Championship, he envisioned the entire Asia comprised of over 4-billion people united under a single sport. The inspirational Chairman and CEO of ONE has led an amazing group of professionals in harnessing the power of martial arts.

ONE Championship has achieved tremendous success since its establishment in 2011. Martial arts is considered a Pan-Asian sport and for the first time in Asian history, it is a sport that has transcended regional and cultural boundaries. Currently, ONE is considered the largest global sports media property in Asian history. Today, ONE Championship is broadcast to over one billion viewers in over 128 countries across the globe.

4) Aleksander Ceferin, UEFA

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – NOVEMBER 08: UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin speaks on stage during the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 Final Tournament Draw held at the Luxor Theater on November 8, 2016 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Aleksander Ceferin heads UEFA as its President, an annual football competition, unlike FIFA which is only held every four years.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of the most prestigious football tournaments in the world and is participated by top-division European football clubs. Although it does not consist of Asian teams, UEFA remains popular among the Asian people due to the popularity of football as a sport.

5) Horacio Muratore, FIBA Basketball

Horacio Muratore FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 awarding of hosts (Photo by @FIBA Twitter)

Having been President of FIBA since 2014, Horacio Muratore has continued to develop the sport of basketball, not just in Asia, but in the entire world.

The FIBA Basketball World Cup was established in 1950 and is an international basketball competition held every four years since its inaugural year. It also has popular variations in the FIBA Asia Championships and FIBA EuroBasket.

The next tournament is scheduled for Beijing, China in 2019. Basketball’s popularity in Asia remains concentrated in the Philippines, Korea, Japan, and China where the sport enjoys a very strong and faithful following.

6) John Malone, Formula One

speaks onstage at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 7, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Although Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s colorful chief executive remains at the helm of business operations, new owner American billionaire John Malone purchased the company in early 2017 and has since continued to deliver fans heart-pumping auto-racing action as its owner.

Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or simply as F1, is the highest class of single-seater international auto-racing tournament in the world. Held in different variations depending on the region, the races are held regularly on an annual basis on purpose-built F1 circuits or public roads.

The most popular variation in Asia is the Singapore Grand Prix which normally takes place on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. The Singapore Grand Prix was first held in 1966. It is the first of its kind in Asia.

7) Hemang Amin, Indian Premier League

Heman Amin has been a part of the BCCI, which governs the Vivo Indian Premier League, for the past seven years.

The IPL is a professional Twenty20 cricket league established in India which is held every April and May of every year. Cricket is by far the most popular sport in India. Although a relatively new organization, having been established as recently as 2008, the IPL is one of the fastest growing sports media properties in Asia.

It is currently valued at US$1.6 billion which is a monumental achievement for such a young property.

8) Yao Ming, Chinese Basketball Association

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 05: Former Houston Rocket and NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming walks on the sideline before Super Bowl 51 between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Former Houston Rockets Center and Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming was named the President of the Chinese Basketball Association earlier this year.

The Chinese Basketball Association, more popularly known as the CBA, is the top Men’s Basketball league in mainland China. Some Chinese players who competed in the CBA have transitioned over to the NBA throughout history, names such as Wang Zhizhi, Mengke Bateer, Yi Jianlian, Sun Yue, and Yao Ming himself. Conversely, a handful of NBA veterans have also seen action on CBA courts as imports, including Stephon Marbury, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Francis, and Metta World Peace a.k.a. Ron Artest.

9) Cai Zhenhua, Chinese Football Association

FLORENCE, ITALY – JUNE 04: China Football Association (CFA) President Cai Zhenhua speaks to the media during a press conference at the club’s training ground at Coverciano on June 04, 2016 in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

China has a burgeoning football obsession, with support from Chinese President Xi Jinping himself who is helping to develop the sport. Cai Zhenhua is the current President of the Chinese Football Association, which governs the sport in China.

China’s passion for football is manifest in the Chinese Super League (CSL), which is the highest tier of professional football in the country. With a season that starts in March and ends mid-November, the CSL features 16 football clubs in its current season. The league, the largest in China, now operates under the management of the Chinese Football Association. The current champions are the Guangzhou Evergrande.

10) Ricky Vargas, Philippine Basketball Association

Ricky Vargas – PBA (Photo by: PBA Images | PBA Media Bureau)

With the recent resignation of former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) head Chito Narvasa, Ricky Vargas of Talk N’ Text will assume the role of Chairman of the PBA Board of Governors.

Basketball is a wildly popular sport in the Philippines, and perhaps the most widely played in the entire country. The premiere proving ground of men’s professional basketball in the Philippines is the PBA, which owns the distinction of being the first professional basketball league in Asia, and the second-oldest continuously existing league in the world apart from the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The PBA played its first game in 1975, and today fuels a hoop-crazy nation that loves its basketball.