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Tue. 02 February 2021

FIFA Master Sports Management Module underway in the business capital of Italy - Milan

The beginning of the new year meant the beginning of a new adventure for the class of the FIFA Master 21st edition. After a well-deserved holiday break, where some of us flew back to our home countries to spend time with families and friends, while others opted to stay in the UK (checking off their bucket list places ranging from Old Trafford to Stonehenge in the process), it was time to move to Milan, Italy, for the start of our Sports Management module.

Held at the SDA Bocconi School of Management, the Sports Management module covers topics such as finance, marketing, organization and governance, strategy, business planning, and event management, applied to the context of sport.

Bags were packed and travel was booked, and as people started to arrive in Milan and share their initial experiences of Italian culture with those still at home, our excitement could only grow.

After a quarantine period characterised by sunny skies, figuring out the intricacies of Italian supermarkets and potentially excessive quantities of take-away gelato, we eventually all settled into our new accommodation arrangements and started to explore the city.

The business capital of Italy, Milan is a world-known fashion hub, and also the home of two of Italy’s most famous and successful football clubs: AC Milan and FC Internazionale, which - at the delight of some of our Professors - happen to be leading the Serie A League this year. Milan is also a cultural and historic gem, and we had the chance to visit some of its impressive landmarks, such as the Duomo Cathedral, as well as wander through the charming cobblestoned streets of its city centre.

Before we knew it, however, it was time for our induction session with the SDA Bocconi Scientific Committee and our academic coordinator, Luca Antonelli. They introduced us to the Bocconi way, the structure of the module, and most importantly, to the brand new SDA Bocconi campus. The campus is a state-of-the-art academic building, boasting classrooms, private study boxes, and various other facilities around an urban park, all bathed in lots of natural sunlight and meeting all the latest environmental sustainability standards and COVID protocols.

Our new adventure has started at a fast pace, and within our first month, we have already covered three submodules. In parallel to this, we have also been working with our assigned supervisors to dive deeper into the research for our interdisciplinary Final Project topics, as we are now able to link the notions and information learnt during the Humanities module in Leicester with our new Sport Management knowledge.

In Sport Leadership & Organization, we learned about the importance of people within organisations, and how this human capital can be best nurtured to achieve success. Professor Ruta also inspired us to analyse our own leadership style, and we were then able to apply the theoretical models and knowledge we had learned during the class to a practical case, with each student selecting a football club to focus on.

Following the introductory course on Financial accounting that took place in Leicester, where we covered the basic concepts, it was now time for the main event. While many of us arrived with preconceived fears about the “dark arts” of finance, these were quickly brushed away as Professor Morelli guided us through a number of extremely engaging sessions, featuring debates, interactive exercises and a good amount of banter over who between Messi and Ronaldo had a greater Net Book Value.

Finally, we moved onto the Strategic Planning module, and explored how organisations develop their strategies, and all the different methods of analysis and measurement which can be used to achieve this. Professor Draebye took us on an immersive journey which spanned the PGA Golf Tour, Australian Swimming and even the Azerbaijani Football Federation.

Besides the quality of the teaching, the FIFA Master provides us with the opportunity to meet and hear from some inspirational guest speakers from across the sport industry. Within our first week, we had the honour and the pleasure to hear from the legendary former captain and now vice president of Internazionale Milan, Javier Zanetti. El Pupi took us behind the scenes of his football career, and through the challenges of transitioning from playing to a managerial career.

We also had fantastic sessions with Matteo Zuretti, the Chief International Relations and Marketing of the NBA’s players union (NBPA), who taught us all about how the union operates and its importance within the North American sport system, as well as giving us some valuable insights into career development, and Ahmed Abbassi, Executive Director of Competition and Football Development at the Qatar Stars League, who delivered an inspirational session about leadership, strategy and finding purpose. Last but not least, Oleksandr Kucheriavyi from the National Association Divisions at UEFA and FIFA Master alumni, showed us how what we had learned in our Strategic Planning module was truly applied in practice, showcasing the great work of the UEFA GROW programme and giving us a sneak peek of what the Football Federation of the Future might look like.

2021 has, therefore, kicked-off in spectacular style, and the experience is proving as exciting as it is intense. We can’t wait to dive deeper into the content and the city, and spirits are as high as can be following the announcement we will be able to resume in-person lectures from next week. Stay tuned for updates from the 21st edition FIFA Master adventure in next month’s report!

Malin Vestin and Lorenzo Cavallari - Milan 2020-21 Class Reps

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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