The sports industry is worth €294 billion to the European Union, according to the European Commission, with 4.5 million people employed as a result of the sector.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for sport, and EC vice president Antonio Tajani said that the industry’s benefits went beyond those related to personal health and well-being.

The report shows that almost half of the industry’s value comes from areas like merchandising, training and sports-related education.

A further €108 billion relates to broadcasting rights and ancillary services like betting, hotels and the food industry. 

The high level of sport-related travel is also a part of this figure, with an estimated 12-15 million sports-related trips taking place worldwide each year.

Just €49 billion of the industry’s value comes directly from sporting events, however, via arenas, stadia and other sporting facilities.

Read Economic Correspondent Sean Whelan's analysis of the report

The so-called ‘upstream’ industries of merchandise, training and education also account for the biggest proportion of jobs, with 2.5 million people employed in these sectors across the European Union.

Around 1.3 million services jobs can be directly connected to the sports industry, while around 700,000 are employed in sporting facilities and clubs.

The report argues that the sports industry has a positive impact on a number of other areas, including the retail and manufacturing sectors, tourism and innovation.

The ongoing development – and redevelopment – of sporting facilities in the region is also of benefit to the construction sector, while sporting events can also help in the regeneration of urban areas, it says.