International Centre for
Sports Studies

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


Thu. 07 April 2022

The curtain comes down on our Milanese adventure

It is the sunsets that will perhaps become the most difficult thing to part with from Milan. Egg yolk skylines dripping low above Navigli Grande, running occasionally into the canal beneath. Blood orange reflections drenching surrounding bars in a warm early evening haze. Cloud patterns tainted with dashes of Aperol Spritz.

March 25th marked the final day of the FIFA Master 22nd Edition’s time at SDA Bocconi, part academic residence, part second-home for the past three months. The curtain finally coming down on a term filled with far more than just the usual prescription of sports-management themed theatrics.

The cohort’s final month in Italy was filled with attempts to check off any remaining ‘to do list’ activities before departure to Switzerland – places to explore, events to attend, memories to make. The month began with a field trip to ‘VeroVolley’ and a comprehensive introduction into the world of volleyball. The group was provided with a remarkable insight into the operations of a volleyball club and the wider industry in general, with lectures from Alessandra Marzari – the first female President of an Italian volleyball club – as well as the team’s commercial manager, digital manager and sponsor representative Decathlon. Capping off the day in particularly memorable style, the ‘VeroVolley’ crew set up an enriching Q & A session with two of the team’s top players, as well as a Treasure Hunt competition designed to test the sports knowledge, aiming skills and critical thinking ability of the FIFA Master class.

Back at Bocconi, classes were accompanied by a diverse range of guest speakers, each providing fresh, innovative and knowledgeable thoughts on the sports industry. These included First Decide’s, Stephen Nuttall, speaking about the impact of the sports industry on television and media, and President of the Italian Federation of Equestrian Sport, Marco di Paolo.

The most prominent speaker of the module, however, was saved for the concluding lecture on the final day of classes. Javier Zanetti, Vice-President of FC Internazionale and widely regarded as one of the finest footballers of his (or perhaps any) generation, who joined us to speak on a far-reaching selection of topics, including his playing career, his charitable foundation and the positive impact he continues to try and make on the local Milanese community. Hosted elegantly by academic co-ordinator Luca Antonelli, Zanetti’s talk finished by fielding several wide-ranging questions from an excitable and on occasion nervous audience. In the evening, several members of the cohort continued their academically-focused research into Zanetti’s career by working enthusiastically through the menu at his restaurant, El Botinero.

Outside the classroom, the group saw the continuation and culmination of the by-now set-in-stone ‘Tavola’ tradition, hosted by two members of this year’s edition, featuring a weekly rotating set of dinner guests being wined and dined with a combination of great food, company, and liquid refreshment.

In addition, the penultimate weekend of the Italian adventure saw FIFA Master Scientific Director Marco Elefanti host a daytime excursion to his stunning country home in the Piacenza area. The day, which took place in the midst of the Emilian countryside’s offering of sweeping hills and lush vegetation, featured a padel tournament, bike riding, a lunchtime feast and some much-needed rest and recreation. The entire experience was fantastic and the cohort would like to once again place on record their extreme thanks to Professor Elefanti for such a generous gesture.

With preparations getting underway for the cultural transition from Italian football to Swiss football, a number of members of this year’s edition took the opportunity to zig-zag across Italy to take in as much Calcio as possible. As well as final trips to the San Siro, there were visits made to the Stadio Olimpico, Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Dacia Arena, and, most importantly, a difficult (but hopefully temporary) farewell from Stadio Breda, home to the mighty Pro Sesto in Serie C – Group A. If the experience of football in Switzerland can be even a fraction as enjoyable as it has been in Italy, there is still plenty to look forward to.

And that is perhaps the underlying theme as bags are packed and tickets to Neuchatel (frantically) booked – that this journey still has its share of activity and excitement in wait. And whilst the sun may have set over Milan for the final time, there still remains much to look forward to as we continue our FIFA Master studies.

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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