International Centre for
Sports Studies

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


Mon. 19 December 2022

Former student of the FIFA/CIES International Programme, Khushal Palicha, talks about the FIFA Master

Khushal Palicha, a former student of the PILLAI/FIFA/CIES International Programme in Sport Management, India, has just completed the FIFA Master. Here, he talks about the experiences and memories gained during more than 10 months on the course, as well as his perception of the world of sport and his future plans.

Where are you from and what were your professional activities before starting the FIFA Master?

I was born in India. My most recent work experience was as a Manager of Business Strategy for FC Goa, an Indian Super League club. In addition, I led the operational strategy and marketing at the Forca Goa Foundation, which is FC Goa's not-for-profit entity for developing the game at the grassroots level.

What were your first impressions of Switzerland where you completed the FIFA Master in July?

It was my first time in Switzerland so I discovered a lot. Besides the obvious comments about the beauty of the country, what was interesting to me is its policy of protecting small businesses (no big "Amazon structures" here!). There is a strong sense of community, especially in small towns like Neuchâtel where I spent the last four months of the FIFA Master.

The University of Neuchâtel as well as the CIES premises are welcoming. The fact that it is right next to a lake also appealed to me. There is a kind of magic about it. The lakefront was a place of many activities. As a class we studied there, but we also relaxed by playing volleyball or riding our bikes.

As far as our studies were concerned, the content of the law module was interesting for those of us who did not have a law background. It really made us truly think about sport in a holistic manner.

Do you have any particular memories of your experiences in Leicester and Milan?

For me, the best part of the FIFA Master is the people you go on this incredible "journey" with. My fondest memories of England and Italy are the ones when we were all together, whether it was staying in London for a weekend after a field visit to the Olympic Park or going to Professor Elefanti's country house in Italy. Having the opportunity to spend time with people from such different backgrounds just broadens your horizon, and encourages you to consider other perspectives.

As an Indian, the visit to Lord's Cricket Ground was an absolutely special moment. Also, as an F1 fan, I was thrilled to be able to visit the Scuderia Ferrari headquarters in Maranello. It was a really incredible moment.

As for the stadium visits, I got to experience a pulsating match between Leicester City and Manchester United. One of my good classmates, Jaejoon (from South Korea), won two tickets for this game (thanks to a De Montfort University ballot) and I benefited from his generosity! Finally, attending several matches at the San Siro in Milan was obviously an unmatched experience.

Why did you decide to dedicate almost a year to the FIFA Master? Was it a difficult decision for professional or family reasons?

Doing the FIFA Master gave me the opportunity to gain a global sports perspective and to become a well-rounded sports professional. My intention was to experience a training programme with people of different nationalities who could challenge my point of view and my vision of the world. Mission accomplished!

It was definitely a difficult decision to make because it is a big financial commitment. In practical terms, you have to leave your job to gain knowledge, which can always prove to be risky. But in the long run, the relationships and experiences I have gained through the FIFA Master will prove to be one of the strongest assets for me, both professionally and for my own growth.

Was the FIFA/CIES International Sports Management Programme useful in preparing you for this great experience? In what way?

The FIFA/CIES International Programme that I followed online (COVID required) with PILLAI - a university located in Mumbai - gave me a strong foundation and a good overview of the sports world. The fact that the course takes into consideration the realities of the country in which the programme is taught means that industry professionals provided concrete examples specific to the Indian context. With this knowledge and the CIES lectures given by international experts, I was able to get an idea of what the FIFA Master could be like. The Programme also gave me the opportunity to understand how to approach the learning process of the FIFA Master

Who will be the sports manager of tomorrow? What qualities should he or she have?

It all depends on whether the sports manager of tomorrow works for a national federation/association or for a commercial entity. The first will have to swallow a bitter pill, that of realising that sport and politics have become dangerously intertwined. His or her job will, therefore, be to patiently negotiate these challenges and to do so at a balanced pace: not too fast so as not to scare the old guard and not too slow, which would make sport obsolete for the “Tik-Tok Gen Z generation”.

For a commercial entity, the manager should try to apply the lessons of organisations outside of sport. This will be the smartest approach for him or her. Because, as I said earlier, sports managers sometimes wear a blindfold and operate in a vacuum.

What is your favourite sportsman or sportswoman?

Being Indian, cricket is obviously close to my heart, but I also watch football (I'm a Chelsea fan) and F1 (Kimi was my favourite driver). In fact, I pretty much like watching and enjoying any sport as such.

As for my favourite sportsman, it is Rahul Dravid - former Indian cricketer and current coach of Team India.

What will you be doing in 20 years time?

I hope to still be working in sport and, in whatever capacity, bring about changes so that sport is no longer seen from the outside as a gated industry that functions merely in an almost impermeable network. Beyond the passion it inspires, I would like to help it become an industry that celebrates diversity of mindset, capabilities and professional backgrounds!

Khushal Palicha, FIFA Master 22nd Edition Alumni LinkedIn id / email

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, 2021 and 2022 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).

As of 3rd October 2022 the CIES has officially opened the application process for the 24th edition (2023-2024) of the FIFA Master.

Please note that the deadline for applying is midday (12pm) Central European Time on Friday 13th January 2023.

Please click on this link to access the online application form.

This website uses cookies – limited to technical and analytical cookies – in order to allow your browsing and enhance your experience.

For more information, please see our cookie policy and our privacy notice.

I understand