International Centre for
Sports Studies

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


Tue. 10 March 2020

Half-way through

With the end of February, the referee blew the whistle signalling the end of the first half of the 20th edition of the FIFA Master.  We have now officially completed over 50% of the course. It is a strange thought realising that we are in the second half of this amazing experience but if it is going to be at least as good as the first part of our study experience, then we cannot wait!

At the beginning of the month, we visited Ferrari in their hometown of Maranello. It was truly inspiring to see in the Museum the incredibly strong bond between the company as it is now and their legendary founder, the great Enzo Ferrari. The class had the pleasure of meeting Dennis de Munck and Nick Stocker, who explained how powerful brands in the world operates and the culture of the prancing horse. Mr. de Munck walked us through the internal workings of the manufacturing area of the super-brand whilst Mr. Stocker, who works for the racing side of the company, Scuderia Ferrari, spoke about the marketing and branding strategy of the most successful racing team in the history of Formula 1.

Following our class visit to Ferrari, we then had the pleasure of meeting and discussing further strategies with two other experts from the international sports industry. The class met Javier Sobrino from FC Barcelona, who showed us the strategy for the Catalan club and the way the blaugrana are pioneering innovation in the football industry through the Barça Innovation Hub. A great lecture! We also had the pleasure to meet Ahmed Abbassi from the Qatar Stars League, who showed us how to improve our leadership skills and took us through the ideas for football which Qatar has – such as the fully sustainable project at the core of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The class also had three lectures with experts in marketing, starting with Massimo Cortinovis, the founder of the Italian company - Sports Production Hub. Mr. Cortinovis emphasised the importance of using digital platforms in the appropriate manner, and challenging the status quo. The lecture was great as it made us understand the direction in which sponsorships are going and how we could make the most of new possibilities in the market. Our second guest speaker was Niccolò Mornati from Infront Sports & Media Marketing. With a lot of us having a background in marketing, he created an engaging lecture about Infront’s strategic business units, specifically for the Italian Golf Federation, and provided extensive knowledge which was extremely useful for our later exam on the subject. A former FIFA Master student, Marcelo Cordeiro (FIFA Master 6th Edition) from IMG allowed us to understand the world of sports licensing and how companies can benefit from these licenses. He showed us some case studies for IMG’s top clients and also how brands continue to grow and develop themselves locally and globally.

Throughout February we had three more sub-modules: marketing, technologies and sustainability. These three topics have been increasing in relevance across the world and, more specifically, the sports industry has been increasingly adapting to innovations and the needs of society. We had the pleasure to learn about marketing, one of the key focus areas of sport institutions these days, from Professor Davide Reina. Prof. Reina showed us the theoretical frameworks behind the usage of marketing tools in retaining present fanbases and expanding to new customers. Furthermore, we had the possibility to apply everything we learned in class to real life scenarios, where we analysed brands and their practices.

We learnt from Armando Cirrincione about the acceleration of technologies in sports, and how companies are experimenting with OTT platforms as a means to engage the increasingly digital fan. This sub-module highlighted to the class the importance of sports organizations keeping up to date with technological developments and the increasing need to actively engage fans through social platforms and other channels of communication.

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a hot topic in the sports industry, as well as a demand from global society. We are privileged to be the first class of the FIFA Masters to undertake Elisabetta Trinchero’s sub-module on sustainability, as it has helped us to understand more about the three elements that sustainability encompasses (social, economic and environmental), and what the current sport ecosystem is implementing to increase their sustainable practices.

Of course, we did not limit ourselves to class. The derby della Madonnina, what can we say? The majority of the class didn’t have to think twice about buying tickets to this unforgettable experience. With a sold-out San Siro stadium, there was plenty of atmosphere and an opportunity for the class to be amongst the rivalry that lives between the two clubs. Not only that, but there was quality football and plenty of goals to enjoy, with the end score being 4-2 to Inter. The only downside of the event was that it was the first time in the whole module that it rained...but we can forgive Milan on this one occasion!

We were also lucky enough to be in Milan during the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, the Italian football cup, with the four teams left in the competition being Napoli, Juventus, Milan and Inter. Incredibly, the first leg of both semi-finals was played at the San Siro in Milan, in the span of two days. Some of us attended Inter-Napoli, with the Partenopeans winning 1:0 away, whilst others in our class decided to go for the CR7 effect, preferring Milan-Juventus and a final 1:1 draw. Every time we have been to the historic ‘La Scala del Calcio’ (football’s La Scala) it has been an incredible experience.

However, we have not only been watching football. Thanks to our football committee, we have been able to play games around the city too. One particular tournament has to be mentioned, as it was played against the team of our dear friends from the Bocconi Sports Knowledge Center. With the result being irrelevant (we won) and the skills defying the rules of football, it was a great bonding experience.

During the module we have also escaped from our sports bubble and had the opportunity to engage our artistic side with a visit to Da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper, located at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. With a local guide, we were able to fully appreciate the importance of the painting and Da Vinci in the world of art.

Whilst we are all loving the Milano module and the city, there have been a few trips away organised by class members to explore the beautiful country that is Italia. So far, members of the class have spent weekends away to Firenze, Roma, Venezia, Bologna and Lago di Como to escape the hustle and bustle of Milano city life and explore other parts that make up la dolce vita.

Also, part of our class also had the chance to visit Belgrade and watch the eternal derby between Crvena Zvezda and Partizan at Rajko Miti? stadium, also known as Marakana. The match ended with a 0:0 draw, but the real spectacle was happening on the stands where the main supporters were located. The Serbian capital also proved to be a hidden gem and between rakija and burek, we even managed to squeeze in a visit to the Kalemegdan and Saint Sava’s Church. A wonderful weekend!

Unfortunately, in recent weeks the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Italy has shut down all university activities. However, the Scientific Committee was able to quickly respond, and our class has been undertaking online lectures in order to continue with our studies.

We are now very excited for the final part of the Milan module at Bocconi and looking forward to what it has in store for us. Hopefully, we will be able to experience even more both in class and outside of it. So, if you want further updates on our amazing journey, tune back in March!


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).