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News

Tue. 02 August 2022

‘Reunited in Switzerland’. A special week for the FIFA Master 20th edition class – Chapter 1

As the 20th edition of the FIFA Master began their sustainability module at SDA Bocconi in February 2020, little did they know this would be the last class they would have ‘in-person’ for the remainder of the academic year. 

In the weeks that followed, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Milan, forcing classes online and eventually shutting down the entire region. The class was spread far and wide, some to Switzerland and others on planes across Europe, with late-night border crossings and hurried suitcase packing the themes of that fateful weekend! 

Soon after, the class flew back to their homes and families around the world (or sought refuge with very welcoming classmates!) and the Master continued online. Despite the adversity, and with the incredible support of CIES and the FIFA Master Alumni community, spirits stayed high, and the unique experience of the 20th Edition came to an end… or so we thought. 

Fast forward two years, and this same class found themselves making their way back to Switzerland for the chance to finally reunite, thanks to an incredible invitation from CIES. With the vision to give the class a taste of the Swiss-sporting and social experiences that COVID-19 denied them, the 20th edition was welcomed for a week of specially organised field visits, dinners and social activities. 

Twenty-nine of the thirty-two members of the 20th edition made their way to Neuchâtel for the week. An incredible feat considering the global footprint and busy schedules of the class now building their working careers. Mini-reunions began occurring in airports and train stations across Switzerland as long-lost friends came together again over the weekend, before all congregating in Neuchâtel on that Monday afternoon.

CIES curated an entire schedule of field visits, social events and networking activities across Switzerland, in collaboration with events run by the FMA community. Having missed out on this in 2020 and with the two year break, it was surreal to be experiencing FIFA Master life all over again.

The week began with a walking tour of Neuchâtel, featuring lake views and local history. This was quickly followed by an incredible welcome apero and dinner in the Palais de Peyrou, home of CIES. 

The following day, we embarked on the first of our Swiss field visits. The FIFA Master gives you the chance to visit the home of so many sports organisations who are based Switzerland, and this week we packed in some of the highlights!

A day at the UCI gave us a window into the classic (velodrome) and the new (BMX) worlds of cycling, with a few bumps and bruises along the way due to the rapid laps and landed jumps! We also learnt about the sustainability of cycling’s future, thanks to a presentation from fellow alumni Isabella Burczak. An evening by Lac Leman followed, with an incredible sunset and the chance to meet alumni from previous editions over the last two decades, in the incredibly active Lausanne community.

Next up, we were off to Lausanne for a day at the IOC, a dream come true for so many in the class. We had presentations about their events DNA, the Youth Olympics, the way they support athletes and the work of the legal teams. This was topped off by a star appearance and open Q&A session with the IOC’s Director General, Christophe De Kepper, who shared both personal and professional lessons with the class. A lake-view lunch at the Olympic Museum was followed by a tour through Olympic history that afternoon, from Ancient Greece to Paris 2024 and beyond! 

Next we travelled to Zurich for a day at FIFA itself! Yet another dream come true for so many of us, as we began at the FIFA Museum with a guided tour of world football history, World Cup by World Cup, nation by nation. After a traditional Zurich lunch, we were welcomed at the Home of FIFA and attended presentations from a wide range of departments on their work in global football. Our busy schedule for the day then finished with the now traditional football match between FIFA staff and the class.

It is worth reflecting that much has changed since we were all together two years ago. There have been marriages, new jobs, new homes and children - both arrived and on the way! One thing that has not changed, however, is our form on the football field. Despite creating many chances in the first half and staying in the game against a well-drilled FIFA side, the end result was not so flattering.

Humble in defeat but having enjoyed the experience as a team, this was the perfect moment to remind us all of the immortal words of Pierre De Coubertin, founder of the Olympic Movement, that were so often told to us by another legendary Pierre (more on him later…): 

“The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part: the important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.” Pierre DC

The match was followed by an evening with yet more alumni and a well deserved (well, maybe…) Italian meal. Post-postre, we were heading back to Neuchâtel for the home straight of this special week’s festivities.  

 

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 and 2021 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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