International Centre for
Sports Studies

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Fri. 12 October 2012

Let's hear from Margarita Echeverria

We continue our series of interviews devoted to those who - behind the scenes - play an important role in the development of the International University Network and the implementation of its activities. Today, spotlight on Margarita Echeverria, CIES local coordinator in Costa Rica. Like many active women of the 21st century, Margarita has to juggle with professional obligations, a busy family life, many mandates for FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)… and the organisation of the FIFA/CIES Programme in cooperation with Yamileth Chacón, José Moncada and Judith Jiménez of the Universidad de Costa Rica in San José.

Academic background

Bachelor’s Degree in Law

Professional activities

Consultant in the field of sport, arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (Switzerland), external consultant for FIFA and the Costa Rican Football Federation.

Sporting activities

Whenever her schedule allows, Margarita goes to the gym every day (preferably first thing in the morning) to attend an aerobics class or do muscle-building exercises for an hour…. Which then allows her to give in to the temptation of a big dessert or chocolates without having too much of a guilty conscience…


Two children… Erika (aged 19) who is following in the footsteps of her mother (law studies... with the objective of completing the FIFA Master) and José Javier (aged 15), who is still in high school and is an enthusiastic football player… while sometimes organising “surprise parties” in the family home…

Favourite sports

Football, although she doesn’t play… But what Margarita loves most is dancing… With a special fondness for the fiery tango and the romantic waltz…


Listening to music, enjoying an evening with friends, with a good glass of wine or whisky… Or just walking to clear her head, get away from it all, forget professional appointments, make the most of present moment….

Greatest strength

Hard work, more hard work and still more hard work (confirmed by CIES…)

Greatest flaw

Impatience, more impatience and still more impatience (also confirmed by CIES…)

Favourite animal

The Phoenix, that legendary bird that always rises from its ashes, symbol of eternal renewal… We need to have the strength to get up and keep going when life hits us hard…

Favourite film on television or on the big screen

There are many… but above all “Shirley Valentine”… The story of a mother whom no-one pays any attention to, so she ends up talking to the wall in her kitchen…. And then a holiday in Greece with a friend gives new meaning to her life… she becomes a real person again… she is born again… like the Phoenix!

Best memory from your (many) travels

Let’s say that the most unusual occurrence was during a trip to Rome, with my children… Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden I saw my son, then aged six, leaving the Vatican with his pockets full of the coins that people had put in the church boxes…. As a responsible mother… and astute legal advisor… I ordered him to go and put the money back immediately, without discussion…

The hero of a lifetime?

Why have only one hero? There are many people whose paths I have crossed who have become my heroes and heroines… people from whom I have learned a great deal… people whose example has allowed me to improve myself, reach fulfilment… A hero can be someone, at a street corner, who gives me a life lesson…

A fundamental principle in life?

Teach people to fish rather than offering fish to people who need it…

What are your responsibilities in the framework of the FIFA/CIES Programme?

They can be extremely varied… The work of a coordinator changes over time. At the beginning, given that I was already familiar with FIFA and CIES, I played a very active role in implementing the Programme… I had to do a little of everything… As a lawyer specialised in the field of sport, I even taught the law module, which brought me great satisfaction…. Now, I work with the university, which aims to organise part of the Programme using distance learning as from 2013…

How has the FIFA/CIES Programme developed in Costa Rica since 2009?

I think we can be happy… The profile and number of students are constantly increasing. Our course evaluations are excellent… And when anything goes a little less well, the University reacts quickly…. Above all, I am impressed by the students and their ability to learn… They all have a job and they find time to come to class twice a week, sometimes from very far afield… My congratulations to them!!!

Do your students have the opportunity to apply their newly-acquired knowledge within their sports organisations?

That is one of the positive aspects of the Programme…. The balance between theory and practice… which allows students to immediately apply the concepts learned in class… And that can only be good news for sport in Costa Rica…


What relationship do you have with CIES and the International University Network?

An excellent relationship with CIES… Our partners are always attentive to our needs… Things are somewhat slower with the other universities in the Network… there is the language barrier… But I have noted that over the last year, things are moving… I have given conferences at universities in various Spanish-speaking countries… The teaching staff and coordinators of the Network are increasingly asked to speak in other countries… Mobility is a very good thing … It is one of the objectives we set during the seminar in Buenos Aires.

What do you think of the FIFA/CIES Programme?

I think that the Programme allows each participant to make progress, to immediately invest newly-acquired knowledge in sports organisations. There are many strong points: Belonging to a community, sharing experience and ideas, networking… Yes, I truly believe that this type of training Programme is useful for sport, in the broadest sense of the term.

Examples of success stories concerning Programme alumni in Costa Rica?

There are many, at all levels…  Some of them have been appointed to government positions (minister, ministerial advisor). One of our alumni became the manager of a premier league club and one of our lady alumni became president of the premier league… Another student was appointed public relations manager for the Costa Rican Football Federation and we even have an alumnus who was elected to the presidency of an international sports federation… 

A final word for the future managers of sports organisations in Costa Rica and elsewhere?

Just one quote: “A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step…” The first step can be a training programme… Why be afraid to go to university? Academic training is a fabulous tool for the development of sport. Given the complexity of today’s world, sports federations, irrespective of their size, must be ready; they must be able to count on qualified staff… otherwise…


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