International Centre for
Sports Studies

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


Fri. 14 February 2020

Buon anno e benvenuti a Milano!

After a great start to the course, with three and a half amazing months spent in the city of the Foxes and the Tigers, the class went on a well-deserved winter holiday.

We all met at the beginning of January in sunny Milan, where we began our studies at SDA Bocconi School of Management, and will remain until the end of March. The Italian fashion capital is home to two of the most historic and famous Italian football clubs, AC Milan and FC Internazionale, and one of the best basketball teams in the country, Olimpia Milano, just to name a few...Clearly, we have three months of amazing sport ahead of us! However, even though we are all sport fanatics, there will certainly be space for cultural visits to the famous Duomo and Da Vinci’s Last Supper.

During the first day of class we were introduced to ‘The Bocconi way’ by members of the Scientific Committee and our module coordinator, with a close look at the structure of the module. In the first month in Milan we have already tackled three different sub-modules, namely Leadership & Organization, Finance and Strategic Planning. The interconnectedness between the topics proves that one of the main skills that a manager needs to have is a holistic perspective. The Leadership & Organization sub-module taught us what it means to be a leader and what skills are needed to be a good leader. Furthermore, we learned how organisations and institutions are structured and how they function in terms of management.

After an introduction on finance in Leicester we were thrown back into it in Milan. Although many of us only hear the equation Assets = Liabilities + Equity and immediately run for the hills, our professor managed to keep us entertained with debates, such as who is the better club -  AC Milan or Juventus?  -  and a lot of us appreciated learning and interpreting quantitative data that will be essential for our careers in management.

During the Strategic Planning sub-module, we learned the steps of the process that companies need to undertake when coming up with their strategic plans. The hands-on approach meant a number of group exercises and thanks to the professor’s insight on creative thinking, this sub-module provided us with practical knowledge on planning.

One of the main strengths of the FIFA Master course are the field visits we are fortunate to be able to undertake. The ones we have had so far have been of the highest quality. We visited the historic Giuseppe Meazza in San Siro, home of AC Milan and FC Internazionale, Vero Volley in Monza, an innovative volleyball club in the Italian top division and the current Italian champions, Juventus FC in Turin.

Our first field visit in Milan of course had to be visiting and watching a match at the famous San Siro Stadium (aka The Giuseppe Meazza Stadium). We all arrived in awe at the 76,000 capacity stadium, and excited to be amongst the history and atmosphere the stadium brings. Having the chance to explore the stadium right before the Inter Milan vs Cagliari match was an additional bonus and walking onto the pitch was an experience none of us will forget. For many of us, it was our first experience watching a game at San Siro - the energy and excitement from the fans, the matchday activities, and the level of football made us hungry for more, and afterwards we immediately investigated opportunities to watch more games there. 

We were fortunate enough to visit Vero Volley at Candy Arena - a change from the football scene as volleyball is a sport that none of us are familiar with. Immediately we were impressed with the quality of the presentations and this innovative club who value its grassroots and elite level players equally. The director Alessandra was a true inspiration - juggling being a doctor, mother, and head of an organisation - she really welcomed us into the volleyball community, and taught us a lot about management that we can transfer to different sports.

We also visited the stadium and home of the current Italian champions, Juventus FC. Here. we gained an insight into managing the Allianz stadium on match-day and non match-days, the human resource side of the Old Lady as well as a look into the champion’s sales strategy. The re-branding of the bianconeri shifted the club’s nature from a football club to an entertainment company with football being its core business.

Together with field visits, another great asset of the course are the guest speakers working in the industry. The very first that came to speak to us in Bocconi was football legend Javier Zanetti. El Pupi spoke in detail about his career and the challenges faced first as the captain of FC Internazionale and then in the transition from the field to the office in his role as Vice-President of the club. We also had the honour to speak to the Italian voice of the NBA, Flavio Tranquillo, who provided us with insights into the world of American and European basketball. In order to complete the basketball-themed day, we also had the pleasure to meet Matteo Zuretti, Chief of International Relations and Marketing at the NBPA, who described the work the organisation does in helping the athletes achieve their goals on and off the court. The class also met Antony Scanlon, Executive Director at the International Golf Federation, who spoke about his past experiences at the IOC and the great results that golf showed at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Mr. Scanlon shared with the class the initiatives that the federation is going to undertake in order to attract younger audiences and boost participation. We also had the pleasure to meet an alumnus from the FIFA Master 13th Edition, Oleksandr Kucheriavyi, who is now working as National Associations Business Development Manager at UEFA. He shared with us the great work that UEFA is doing through their Grow programme and the concept of football federations of the future.

Living in Milan is a completely different experience to what we had in Leicester. In Leicester as we all lived in the same building (and being a smaller city), we could easily find ways to socialise together outside of class. However, in Milan we are all in different locations. We didn’t want to lose any bonds created in Leicester, though, and so began the weekly gathering we have titled #MilanoMania. Each week, a few members of class who are living together or live near each other will organise a gathering/activity at their flat (or if it’s too small in a nearby area). In this way we have an excuse to see each other and break-up the week, and explore a bit more of Milan. So far it has been a success, and has left a few heads sore on a Thursday morning!

January has been a crazy month in Milan - the city and university living up to its expectations as both intense yet exciting. We have now all settled in and we are eager to continue to learn more about the practicalities of sport management.


Stephanie Holmes (Australia) and Igor Markovic (Italy) - FIFA Master 20th edition


FIFA Master - International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport, ranked No.1 Course in Europe 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 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).