Former international football stars Gaizka Mendieta, Georgi Kinkladze, Zurab Khizanishvili and Revaz Arveladze are set to take part in a special panel at SBC Digital Summit CIS analysing the relationship between professional sports and the business world.

The Betting and Sports – More Than Just A Companion? session takes place on 5 November, the second day of the virtual conference and expo for the betting and gaming industry in the CIS, Ukraine and Georgia.

It will see the ex-players offer a professional athlete’s perspective on the betting industry, and how responsible gaming and fair play principles for the sports fans and sportsmen should be constructed and followed. 

Between them, the quartet boast more than 200 international caps and experience of many of Europe’s top leagues. All of them are now forging successful post-playing careers, which have given them wider perspectives on the role of the gambling industry in sports, business and society. 

Mendieta is best known for his nine years at Valencia, during which he played in two Champions League finals, and also had spells with Lazio, Barcelona and Middlesbrough, as well as being part of the Spanish national team at Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup. Since retiring, he has worked as a football pundit and opened a number of upmarket Spanish cuisine restaurants. 

Kinkladze is famed for his time in England, where his dazzling performances made him a fans’ favourite at Manchester City and Derby County. He also won 54 caps for Georgia and played for Dinamo Tbilisi, Ajax, Αnorthosis Famagusta and Rubin Kazan, before starting a successful business career. 

“It’s a great honour to be part of this interesting event together with other great footballers,” said Kinkladze. “I’m looking forward to sharing knowledge about the game we all love and the business side of it.” 

Khizanishvili won 92 caps for the Georgian national team during a career that saw the defender star in his domestic league, as well as enjoy spells with Dundee, Rangers, Blackburn Rovers, Kayserispor and Inter Baku. He is now a leading analyst on Adjarasport’s football coverage.  

“I was delighted when I got an invite to the SBC event, which will focus on the CIS markets,” said Khizanishvili. “As a former footballer and a current coach, I have seen the progress both on the sports side and the subsequent business which follows the development of the quality of the game on pitch.”

Arveladze is a former Georgia international and UEFA Football Committee member. After a successful career that saw him play in the Bundesliga, Belgian top-flight and for Dinamo Tbilisi, he served as the General Secretary and the Vice-President of the Georgian Football Federation.

“I am very much looking forward to participating in the event with fellow football greats,” said Arveladze. “It’s always good to catch up with old friends and former foes on the pitch to discuss the industry with them.”

The panel will be moderated by Lasha Machavariani, CEO and Founder of Sports Media Holding, which is organising the event in association with SBC.

Rasmus Sojmark, CEO and Founder of SBC, said: “SBC Digital Summit CIS is a rare opportunity to gain in-depth insights on the betting and gaming markets in the region, and we have some superb speakers ready to share their experience and ideas with our audience.

“It’s fantastic that Gaizka, George, Zurab and Revaz have joined the line-up and I’m sure their panel will be one of the highlights of the event.” 

The agenda for the conference element of SBC Digital Summit CIS on 4 – 5 November also features panels investigating the opportunities for gaming operators in Ukraine, Georgia and Uzbeikstan. Further sessions will assess the best marketing strategies in local markets, how to operate a gambling brand in a multicultural environment, and how to take advantage of the growing popularity of esports in the region.

Click here to register for a free pass for SBC Digital Summit CIS.