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CIES in the Media

Fri. 11 June 2021

The FIFA Master journey continues at the heart of global sport

It is really true that time flies when you are having fun! But can we please slow it down a bit?

It seems only yesterday that the FIFA Master students arrived in Neuchatel, Switzerland. However, as we write this article, in between memorable field visits and once-in-a-life-time experiences, the class has officially entered the last week of lectures, ahead of a full month of Final Project preparation before the closing Graduation Ceremony. At this stage, it is a beautiful chaotic mix of emotions, ambitions and nervousness for the FIFA Master students. However, with several important deadlines approaching and the level of work and activities rising, there is no doubt that going through this whirlwind together is the real blessing and legacy. Thus, take us seriously if we say that we are going to miss our time in class a lot and let us quickly tell you why this time was so special and interesting to us.

The first week of May kicked-off with an interesting focus on football governance and competition in Asia. Here, we had the pleasure to host Benoît Pasquier, Partner of BP Sports Law and former General Counsel & Director of Legal Affairs at AFC, who provided us with capturing insights of the AFC Statues and governance. This was followed by  a panel composed of M. Kobayashi (WE League), Shoko Tsuji and Biplav Gautam (Sportradar) - who are both  alumni of the FIFA Master. Doojin Sa (K-League) who is another course alumni was also joined by  Stuart Larman (UAE Pro League). The panel engaged in constructive discussions over the peculiarities of Asian football within the respective industries, outlining current and future challenges along with proposed solutions and projects.

The international debate, as implied in sport related issues, was further elaborated on in terms of comparative sport models by Petros Mavroidis, who is Professor of European Union and WTO Law at the University of Neuchâtel and at Columbia Law School. He was followed by Stephen Weatherill, Jacques Delors Professor of European Law at the University of Oxford.

A full week of lectures was then dedicated to the commercial aspects of sport, along with contractual and legal frameworks.  Lectures specifically focused on  IP rights protection and the resulting  sponsorship, licensing, merchandising, ticketing and media distribution of sport related brands and events. To this extent, contributions were provided by Professors Thomas Probst and Madalina Diaconu, and experts such as Jason Smith, partner at Brabner, and Stephen Bock, Head of Legal and General Counsel at Volleyball World.

The third week of May then started with an exam deadline for the class, which was then followed with the start of a new sub-module dedicated to ethical and integrity issues in sport.

During this new sub-module the class had the pleasure to engage with a presentation from Pierre Cornu who provided us with an overview of corruption, betting and match-fixing, as well as from Stephanie Eichenberger (FIFA) with whom the class got to discuss several case studies from the FIFA Integrity department. Consequently, the class also had a presentation from Patrick Trépanier (FIFA) on its Compliance Operations and Strategy. Finally, the class also discussed betting integrity issues with Anja Martin (Sportradar), a former alumnus of the course, who guided the class with the presentation of Sportradar’s activity on data collection, reporting and its fraud detecting system. These presentations were immensely helpful for the class, as they help build on the understanding of these issues, and which are one of the biggest threats facing sport today.

It was then time for the class to discuss another major integrity issue – that of doping. Emily Wisnosky (FIBA) presented to the class on the legal aspects of the fight against doping, as well as some of the main provisions from the WADA Code and its applicability. This was  followed by a presentation from Benjamin Cohen (International Testing Agency) who provided the class with an overview of the creation and activity of the ITA.

After attending these presentations and joining discussions  on ethical and integrity topics, it was then important for the class to see how these integrity issues  are threatening the world of sport. As such, the class started to explore disciplinary proceedings, dispute resolution and  the work of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

On dispute resolution, Dr. Heiner Kahlert (Martens) spoke to the class about the Basketball Arbitral Tribunal, its composition and functioning. Sébastien Besson (Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler), Antonio Rigozzi (Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler and CAS Arbitrator), Delphine Deschenaux-Rochat (CAS) and Michele Bernasconi (Bär & Karrer and CAS Arbitrator), next provided the class with an overview of dispute resolution in sport, the functioning and structure of the CAS, the CAS Code and its procedural rules, as well as Landmark CAS Awards and their main related issues. This overview and the connected “in and off-class exercises” has helped the class in preparing for their understanding for what is to come in mid-June - the Moot Court Arbitration exam!

It was then time for the class to conclude the sub-module dedicated to ethical and integrity issues and to prepare for an interesting 2-day exercise on Operational Readiness, from an events perspective. For this, the class got to enjoy a field visit to the Stade de la Maladière in Neuchâtel, which was crucial for the Operational Readiness exercise, as the group got to see the different areas of the stadium, and where the different operations take place. The Operational Readiness exercise was delivered by Pedro Correia and João Pina.

With both the end of the month  and the last two months of the FIFA Master academic year fast approaching, the class got to enjoy a field visit to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which is the world governing body of cycling. During the morning, the class was able to choose between two different activities (BMX or Track Cycling), that were followed in the afternoon by presentations from UCI staff, including former alumnus of the course, Isabella Burczak (Advocacy and development manager) and Olivier Banuls (Head of Cycling Unite – ITA)

Finally, the class concluded this busy month of May with a presentation from Prof. Denis Oswald, who spoke firstly about the different types of sports events that exist, and then presented to the class with an interesting and insightful overview of his Olympic career. In between, we had the opportunity to meet with Pierre Ducrey (IOC), and  alumnus of the course, who connected with us via video link from Tokyo. In his talk he was able to elaborate on the main challenges and achievements so far in the preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer. 

FIFA Master - International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport, ranked No.1 Course in Europe 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 by the SportBusiness International global rankings.

Organised by CIES in partnership with De Montfort University (United Kingdom), SDA Bocconi School of Management (Italy) and the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland).

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