7 PRINCE2 Principles applied to soccer

Date: 24/05/2022| Category: Project Management|

PRINCE2 is the most widespread project management method in the world and is used in projects of all sizes and types. In this article we demonstrate the universality of the method by seeing how the 7 principles of PRINCE2 can also be applied to the world of soccer.

PRINCE2: the 7 Principles

The 7 PRINCE2 Principles are:

  1. Continued business justification
  2. Learn from experience
  3. Defined roles and responsibilities
  4. Manage by stages
  5. Manage by exception
  6. Focus on products
  7. Tailor to suit the project environment

So how do these 7 principles apply to the world’s most popular sport?

Continued Business Justification

According to this principle, the project only starts and continues if there is a justification for it. Otherwise, the project is discontinued. Therefore, every project must also present a business case.

Taking the example of the World Cup, the biggest soccer event that takes place every four years, the business justification can be found in several factors:

  • Cash winnings: France in 2018 won a prize of $38 million, while Croatia and Belgium took home $28 million and $24 million, respectively.
  • The so-called ‘feel good factor’. That is, the very climate of the World Cup reflects positively on the population and the possibility of taking home the cup. According to one estimate, the winning nation sees a surge in births, a baby boom, just nine months after the end of the World Cup.
  • The match-related economy in general is undergoing a particularly buoyant period, especially with regard to gadgets (shirts, flags, banners, …) and events.
  • The host nation obviously benefits a lot from the expenses incurred: world-wide visibility, tourism, economic growth, … .

Learn from experience

According to this PRINCE2 principle, all experiences are fundamental to enhancing one’s own skills and those of the team.

Lessons Learned are therefore a fundamental factor in the PRINCE2 methodology, so much so that one of the most important documents to be produced is the so-called Lesson Log, where all lessons learned from the project are recorded in order to be able to use them in the next steps of the project and also in other projects. The aim is obviously to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

This principle obviously also applies to the world of football: learning from less convincing performances and building on successes, studying opponents and their techniques, understanding which schemes have worked in previous matches and which have not.

Surely all teams are already preparing themselves as best they can for the World Cup 2022!

Defined roles and responsibilities

According to the principle Defined roles and responsibilities, all team members must be clear about what their role is and how it fits into the team structure: everyone should know what activities the other team members are doing and what the objectives of these activities are.

This is also one of the fundamental principles for any soccer coach: the team must be tight-knit and must know the schemes so precisely that they know how their teammates move and how they will move: the players must know not only their own role, of course, but also how this fits into the dynamics of the game.

Manage by stages

Manage by stages: planning, monitoring and controlling are fundamental activities to be carried out at each stage of the project in order to correctly apply the PRINCE2 method, which is based precisely on the fact that a project must be carried out by successive stages.

Transforming this principle to the world of soccer is very simple: Focus on the single match. Speculating and planning on the final makes no sense if you are still in the quarter-finals, but you must focus on the most imminent match.

You must never plan the event horizon too far ahead of time, or you risk ending up like the English fans at the 2020 European Championship!

Manage by exception

According to the PRINCE2 methodology, it is essential to be able to delegate and consequently it is necessary for each professional to have the right level of authority to be able to do their job efficiently and effectively.

In practice, each member of a team works within certain tolerances that allow them to work without the need for time extensions or budgets.

During the match, the coach has no way of giving precise instructions to the players: the general line of the match is decided before taking the field, leaving the individual players free to play their own game.

Focus on products

Products must be defined and produced according to quality requirements on which PRINCE2 projects focus: all stakeholders involved in the realisation of a project must be kept up to date with what is ‘expected’ of the resulting product because certain products require certain activities.

Football fans not only want to see their team win, they also want to see good matches. This is undoubtedly a quality requirement that is demanded of the playing team.

Winning is important, but it is also important to give the fans a good game, and it is not uncommon for a coach, even a successful one, to be replaced in favour of someone who tries to play a good game.

Also, moving from PRINCE2 to soccer, the word ‘product’ corresponds exactly to ‘goal’: a team must focus on producing products/goals, instead of focusing on 75% ball possession!

Tailor to suit the project environment

The PRINCE2 method must be adapted according to the environment, size, complexity, importance, capacity and risk involved in the project: no project will ever be the same and identical to another one, which is why approaching two different projects with the same method is not effective.

A large project will certainly have more phases than a smaller one, which is why project managers must be able to adapt PRINCE2 processes, themes and principles to the project. This same principle also applies in soccer: each coach must adapt his approach not only according to the team and the players he is coaching, but also according to external factors, such as opponents, pitch, weather and the state of health of his players.


The PRINCE2 methodology is the most widespread in the world precisely because of its universal and extremely adaptable nature: it can be applied not only in ‘standard’ projects within organisations but also in the most diverse environments, such as soccer.

Read more: Formula 1: the agile sport

If you would like to find out how best to manage a project and learn more about PRINCE2, find out the dates of our PRINCE2 Foundation course or write to us for more information.

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