International Centre for
Sports Studies

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


Thu. 31 March 2016


The 16th  edition of the «FIFA Master» has already completed two months in Milan and what a couple of months they have been! How time flies!! February 2016 saw 32 international students from diverse backgrounds wrap their heads around Sport Marketing and Sport Strategic Planning in this fast paced, high calibre SDA Bocconi module.

The first days of February witnessed the commencement of the intensive Sports Marketing submodule. Taught by our  most capable and exciting of professors in three different areas of Marketing were Professors Paolo Guenzi, Davide Reina and Silvia Vianello. Professor Guenzi, with his extensive  knowledge,  later focused on analytical marketing which included understanding the sports consumer,  strategic marketing and positioning in the sports business sector. Professor Guenzi used examples  from the Giro d’Italia to explore  its uniqueness and then took us all the way to UniCredit’s strategic decision to sponsor the UEFA Champions League and how to measure the success of such an investment. As students we definitely profited from the insights into the practical application of marketing theory in sport.

Professor Davide Reina, directed our study focus to four major topics: brand management; managing marketing communication processes,  sponsorship and finally the strong relationship between the web and sport. Professor Reina’s interactive approach highlighted the multi-faceted directions sports marketing can take, and how the «FIFA Master» Candidates as future Sport Managers could (and should) approach it. Among others, we  analysed case studies in small groups from leagues (MLB) as well as individual players (LeBron James), which have brands of their own to manage. To conclude  the Sports Marketing submodule, Professor Vianello provided us with an intense study about how new technologies have  opened  an infinite number of doors for future  marketing activations.

The Sports Strategic Planning submodule was coordinated and presented by Professor Mikkel Draebye. Prof. Draebye is a really passionate Professor who enjoyed a great interaction with the class while delivering important content with energy and enthusiasm. This submodule highlighted how critical it was for Sports Organisations to have a feasible and well-structured strategic plan which takes  into account, besides other matters, the stakeholders’ interests and involvement. Once again, through case studies in small groups, we  had the opportunity to formulate and propose the implementation of an overarching strategic plan  which included  analysis of subdomains, resource appraised models and formulation frameworks.

February also saw two group visits to the broadcasting giants SKY SPORTS ITALIA and the most successful Italian calcio team of  recent years, both on and off the pitch, JUVENTUS.

We were very  fortunate to visit Sky Sports Italia, a truly incredible day out, whereby not only were we able to tour the SKY building, complete with studio tours (!) but we were also able to hear from distinguished speakers on a variety of topics and which were highly relevant in this increasingly commercial world of sport. Riccardo Botta, head of SKY Italia’s production and creative hub, introduced us to the company and explained to us both how Sky Sports is structured and the production process of creative content within the company.

Many other high-profile speakers shared their knowledge of the industry and especially of Sky Sports’ operations. We must point out the priceless session led by Fabio Caressa, whose voice was immortalised as the Italian commentator for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which ended with another Fabio (Cannavaro) lifting the fourth cup won by the Azzurri. Speaking about iconic captains, once again the 16th «FIFA Master» class was expanded with its 33rd member (and 27th nationality!), Javier Zanetti, Inter FC’s VP and football legend.

The other company visit for  the month of February was not  in Milan.  Instead, the chance to visit the Juventus Stadium and specially talk to top managers from  different strategic areas of Juventus FC was much more than a reward for the early road trip to Turin. The whole class enjoyed the interesting presentations given by Sergio Spinelli, Head of Human Resources, Francesco Gianello, Head of Stadium, and Tomas Aricò, Partnership Manager. With access to relevant information, the «FIFA Master» students engaged in great discussions with all three “host speakers” about Juventus’ past decisions and future plans, and their  perspectives on the  Italian and European football markets.

The rich content presented to us by the experienced SDA Bocconi Professors was as usual supported not only by the aforementioned company visits, but also by distinguished guest speakers, and from a myriad of organisations too. All have  enhanced what has been taught in class in a more practical way. This structure continues to place the «FIFA Master» programme at  a very high level.

To date we have had the pleasure of learning from and interacting with: Andreas Gellner, Managing Director of Adidas for South Europe; Andrea Ceraico, General Director of Redbull Italia; Daniele De Negri, CEO and Founder of SportMaker; Vince Gennaro, Author and Professor at Columbia University; Andrea Bassani, Chief Television & New Media Rights Officer of Euroleague Basketball; Michael Williamson, Corporate Director at FC Inter; Fabio Napoli, Marketing Director at Gazzetta dello Sport; Ryan Bahia, Marketing Coordinator at OptaPro, with Daniele Trombetta, Data Editor at OptaSports and last, but definitely not least, Antony Scanlon, President of the International Golf Federation.

Adding a cherry to the cake, the CIES hosted for the class  a great Milan Aperitivo at the strategically placed (less than a block away from SDA Bocconi) Exotic in the presence of the whole Scientific Committee. We were honoured to have our edition’s patron, Giovanni Malagò, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President, in our company. It was a lovely social gathering, interacting informally with professors, coordinators and directors, as well as our patron. The next day,  all of us were invited to the first official presentation of the Roma 2024 Olympic bid in the city of Milan, led by Mr. Malagò and Professor Ruta, with the invaluable contribution of DMU’s Professor Richard Holt.

This part of the module has flown past so quickly. While we were starting to get comfortable and to know all the little corners of  Milan, Neuchâtel has started calling for our next module. Still, we look forward to the last part of Milan with enthusiasm and a keenness to learn.  

The module at SDA Bocconi, as with the entire international «FIFA Master» course, certainly is fast paced, and not for the faint hearted. It is action packed and highly intensive. Indeed, we  have now come  to understand why the CIES had to be so thorough in the class selection because this is a programme only for the most energetic and enthusiastic  masters level students who are passionate about sport.

Primrose Mhunduru and Ulisses de Almeida Prado Bresciani

Milan Class representatives

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