Sweeney 'brings global influence'
The appointment of Bill Sweeney as the chief executive of the British Olympic Association can give the federation added clout on the international stage, according to chairman Sebastian Coe.
Sweeney moves from being head of business development for Puma, where he directed the sportswear company's strategy for the London 2012 Olympics including the commercial programmes with Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man.
He was also involved with Team GB in his previous job at Adidas, and worked on the deal that saw Stella McCartney design the team kit for London 2012.
The 55-year-old Englishman's role encompasses him overseeing the BOA's build-up to the winter Games in Sochi next year and the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and crucially will aim to boost the organisation's income from sponsorship deals.
Coe, who announced Sweeney would take up his new role on November 18, believes having someone seen as a world leader in their field can only benefit British sport and feels the country is starting to understand what benefits can be obtained by figures with worldwide influence.
"It is absolutely imperative that we have people that are influential in sport in Britain involved in international sports," he said.
"If you go back 50 or 60 years ago it wasn't uncommon to have Brits who were heads of federations. Stanley Rous was at FIFA and my own federation was run by a Brit for many years.
"Then we went into the 1970s and 80s and entered the wilderness years and by the 90s there were very few people in world sport who were from these shores.
"That has changed in the last few years and I think UK Sport have been helpful in making funding available to help bring people into those posts, but we have to do more. That is really important."
Coe said he felt previous regimes across all of British sport had underplayed the importance of having a seat at their respective international tables, highlighting the Football Association's failure to secure a World Cup as a prime example.
"Maybe there were elements of British sport that didn't realise how important it was to be punching our weight internationally," he added.
"We probably tended to think that the most important thing was to get the right people running British sport without thinking that getting the right people running sport who also had influence overseas can make quite a dramatic difference to that sporting landscape.
"Had the FA been thinking like that 30 years ago, we might have held a World Cup by now.
"The more people you have at as many different levels of international sport that are in positions of influence from this country, the better your sport will be and the more opportunities you will create, the more events you will bring here and there will be more participation off the back of those events."
Coming into a commercial role for the BOA after the success of the London Olympics and the revenue boosts that would have been involved in a home games could be seen as a difficult move.
But Sweeney sees future events, and Rio in 2016 in particular, as a great way of sustaining the commercial growth of the BOA.
"I can't imagine what it must have been like in the summer of last year on your home turf," he said
"But if you had to pick another venue where you wanted to go commercially you would be hard-pressed to go for anywhere else other than Rio.
"If you look at all the major corporations now, Brazil features very highly as economic focus and a priority. So from a commercial point of view I think Rio is an asset."