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News

Mon. 23 July 2018

FIFA Master Graduating Class Privileged to Receive Inspirational Speech from South Africa Rugby Legend Francois Pienaar

Picture from left to right: Thubaelihle Sibanda, 18th edition FIFA Master student, Professor Denis Oswald, CIES Director and Mr. François Pienaar, patron of the 18th editionof the FIFA Master.  

The 18th edition FIFA Master students had the privilege to meet South Africa Rugby legend Mr. François Pienaar during a special Graduation Ceremony held at the historic Château de Neuchâtel on Friday 13th July 2018. Mr. Pienaar was a distinguished guest at the ceremony in his role as the 18th edition Patron.

Francois Pienaar is the former South Africa Rugby Captain who famously led his team to a historic victory at the 1995 World Cup held in South Africa. The image of Nelson Mandela, dressed in the Springbok green jersey bearing Francois’ number on the back, and handing him the World Cup trophy on 24th June 1995, remains one of the iconic moments in the history of world sport. This image, which was broadcast to over one hundred and fifty countries, circumnavigated the globe and symbolized, beyond the sporting event itself, the definitive return of South Africa to the world stage.

This special relationship between Francois and Nelson Mandela later became the subject of a book by John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, and would eventually be adapted into a film by Clint Eastwood under the name of Invictus, with Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar.

During the degree ceremony, Mr. Pienaar gave an emotional speech about his early career and life in South Africa, and of course his meetings with Nelson Mandela who is also the godfather to one of his sons. He shared his vision for the future of sport and the importance for the FIFA Master graduates to never give up on their dreams. He emphasized that each and every individual should continuously work to do their very best, not only from a professional point of view, but also as an individual person facing the challenges in what is now such a fast changing society. Mr. Pienaar’s talk was especially memorable since his achievements in sport on such an international level during Nelson Mandela's post-apartheid Presidency were instrumental in helping to unite all of South African society behind a common cause. It was fitting, therefore, that Mr. Pienaar’s graduation ceremony speech was made only a few days before what would have been Mr. Mandela’s 100 birthday.

Mr. Pienaar was born in Vereeniging, South Africa, into a working class Afrikaner family. He was the eldest of four boys and after completing high school at Hoërskool Patriot Witbank, his sporting potential was recognized with an athletic scholarship to the Rand Afrikaans University, where he studied law. He continues to live in South Africa where he and his wife, Nerine, are active in various charitable projects. He also continues to be a Board Member at Saracens Rugby Club in England.

We extend our sincere thanks to Mr. Pienaar for his dedication towards the FIFA Master students of the 18th edition and we hope to join forces again in the near future.

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