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Thu. 03 February 2022

Duomo, Dinner Parties and Deadlines: FIFA Master 22nd Edition Arrives in Milan

It was only after the first parachute flare went off that the FIFA Master 22nd Edition cohort’s introduction to Italian football was complete. Already in the midst of the cacophonous cauldron of clamour and convulsion served up by a largely red-and-black San Siro, Milan’s chilly early January air was shattered completely by the bombastic pyrotechnic display put on by the visiting AS Roma faithful. Complete with full Mourinho meltdown, and a stadium that unflinchingly continues to command respect even when embattled with stringent COVID-19 regulation, the group’s pulsating admission to Calcio had already set a tone for the month to follow.

For many members of this year’s edition, however, the Italian leg of the FIFA Master adventure had begun just over a week previously, when flights departing from East Midlands Airport in the UK had slowly become filled with the usual anticipant collection of CIES students, ready to swap Leicester’s offerings of sleet-driven afternoons and tea-based diets for a more continental cocktail of sunshine and coffee. With a significant number of the cohort arriving in Milan just in time for the New Year, 2022 was brought in with an evening of sparkling water and board games, whilst we waited for the remainder of our colleagues to touch down.

Such frivolity, however, could only be short-lived, with the group given a full inauguration into SDA Bocconi within a few days, fully prepared and briefed for 12 weeks’ worth of studying Sports Management. The group has remained ‘asymptomatic’ of any restlessness or ennui, thanks to the intellectual rigour the FIFA Master programme continues to provide. Foundational topics to sports management have been supplemented by detailed analyses of areas such Sports Finance and Human Resources, whilst Final Project plans continue to be drawn and redrawn in living rooms and kitchens up and down Navigli and Porta Romana.

Bocconi itself has become a kind of second, futuristically-designed home, with its handsomely laid out green spaces overlooked by every facet of its maze of circular corridors. “I don’t think I’ve ever not been lost in this building”, claimed one particularly logistically-challenged member of the group!

And yet perhaps our most memorable experience to date arrived on the other side of Milan, as the class braved the early morning metro rush hour to once again reach the San Siro, only this time in the form of guests of FC Internazionale. As the more cold-weather acclimatised members of the cohort became appalled that temperatures dare climb to 16°C in January, we were taken into the very bowels of the stadium, on an exclusive pitch side tour that included dressing rooms and special access areas. This was followed by a star-studded line-up of lectures, delivered by key members of the Internazionale hierarchy.

Yet the scope of such enriching encounters has not been limited to field visits or football stadia, with a full schedule of industry-seasoned guest speakers being laid on across the month to provide an inimitable insight into the sporting world. Even a Monday morning, the group discovered, could be livened up through the arrival of Adriana Caliri, an international leadership coach at CEC Renaissance, who had previously held the position of General Manager for Tennis and Golf for Nike WHQ. Adriana’s session, in addition to finding quick success in beating off any start-of-week blues, she spoke of the personal challenges and experiences on her journey to achieving her dream role in sport. In addition to introducing us to her ‘1/3 work, 1/3 health, 1/3 networking’ work-life mantra, Adriana also shared a plethora of other tools which will now serve as a guide for the class in both our personal lives and career prospects going forward. Perhaps most seminal, however, was her advice on being able to identify what unique contribution each person can make as an individual during times of uncertainty and change, a topic all too relevant in the current climate.

Adriana’s lecture was complemented by that of Guido Betti, Volleyball World’s Chief Business Officer, who provided us with a detailed outlook on his federation’s strategy and operations. sharing key trends in communication strategy, fan insights and the major milestones they have reached. Matteo Zuretti, Head of International Relations at the NBPA, completed the extensive programme of external visitors, stimulating a deep and wide-ranging discussion on what the sports scene looks like from players’ perspectives, with particular emphasis on highlighting his own association’s ongoing initiatives and projects. 

And yet, amongst a bustling schedule of work and travel, the cohort has still made time to explore the intricacies and nuances of Italy’s answer to the East Midlands. Weekend excursions to the city’s late night hotspots, the discovery of several local cultural hubs, and a newfound initiative from two class members to host each of their peers in a rotating series of dinner parties have all ensured that steam continues to be adequately blown off at every available moment.

In spite of the ongoing global COVID uncertainties, the 22nd Edition of the FIFA Master have continued to find optimism and opportunity amongst the Omicron, as they begin life in Milan. And as February dawns, bringing with it a fresh menu of new experiences, there remains a pervading sense that amidst the rubric and rulemaking, the month ahead may yet find room for some further degree of levity and excitement. Just like that night at San Siro.

Yasmine Helmy & Aaryaman Banerji

22nd Edition FIFA Master Candidates 

FIFA Master - International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport, ranked No.1 Course in Europe 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 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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