International Centre for
Sports Studies

Avenue DuPeyrou 1
2000 Neuchâtel
Tel +41 32 718 39 00


Tue. 15 October 2013

Interview of Professor Pierre Lanfranchi, Historian and FIFA/CIES International University Network Scientific Coordinator

Can you first tell us about yourself and your career path?

I first studied history and Art History at the University of Montpellier and then received a PhD scholarship from the European University Institute in Florence where I was awarded my PhD in 1988. From 1988 to 1993, I created an international research project on "The culture of sport in Europe" – again at the European University Institute in Florence. Since 1993 I have been Professor of history at De Montfort University in Leicester. In 1996 we created the International Centre for Sports History and Culture and the following year the MA programme in Sports History and Culture. Later, and together with the International Centre for Sport Studies (CIES), the University of Neuchâtel and the SDA Bocconi University, we launched in 2000 the FIFA International MA programme in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport (the ‘FIFA Master’). Also, since 2003 we have worked with CIES on the idea and then creation of an international university network. Initially I was involved on a part-time basis on this project. However, after a decade, I am now currently working almost exclusively on this programme, where I am responsible for all academic issues.

What links do you have with the sport world?

My links with the world of sport started with my Master’s thesis in Montpellier in 1982. My work focussed on the history of one season of a club "Le Football Club de Sète vainqueur du championant et de la Coupe de France de football en 1934". At that time academic work connected with sport was quite rare. I later wrote my PhD on the completely different topic of German diplomatic history. However, in 1988, with the creation of the European Culture Research Centre in Florence, I had the opportunity to come back to sport. My idea was to create a network of European academics dealing with sports and, since then, I have not been able to leave the sporting sphere. In 1990, Italy was organising the World Cup and I had the possibility to organise a major conference. Moving to the UK in 1993, we organised with my colleague John Williams (University of Leicester) another conference related to Euro 1996. Later, with the creation of CIES, I was asked to chair the group of historians in charge of writing the 100 years of FIFA.

What are your special areas of expertise within the CIES?

My position at CIES is quite particular. To make a comparison with the football industry, I am on loan from De Montfort University, where I still have my permanent position as professor. As I said earlier, I am in charge of all academic issues regarding the University Network. This represents a lot of travelling, examination of projects and student interviews all over the world. However, I still maintain my teaching on the FIFA Master in Leicester.

How does your work concretely impact the sport industry?

I have the chance to interview people worldwide who are willing to work in the field of sport as part of my role with the University Network and the FIFA Master. I don't pretend to have any impact on their personal development but I guess that I play the role of a filter – ensuring that candidates who apply fully understand the demands and skills they will require for a successful career in the world of sport.

What are your long-term aims within the CIES?

I hope that we will continue to be able to give the people we have trained all over the world the possibility to improve themselves and to become our colleagues at CIES within  the framework of the CIES network.