International Centre for
Sports Studies

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


Thu. 04 June 2020

The extended FIFA Master Experience: Virtual upgrades

After a well-deserved week break, the class was ready to resume the online classes which had been extended at this point until the end of the academic year, following the decision of the Swiss government to maintain the closure of all universities.

Nejat Haciomeroglu, our Law module coordinator, carefully put together a weekly online schedule using a different interface than the one we previously used for the Bocconi module. Although very simple, it still allowed for some interactive features such as breakout rooms, to ensure we are not missing debates and discussions we would normally have if the class was to be conducted physically on campus at the University of  Neuchâtel. Both the content and format of all lectures have contributed to the high rate of attendance, even when participants were logging in from different time zones between Japan and Canada in their respective home countries.

As not all of us in class have a legal background, we started with an introduction to basic concepts of association law with D.Oswald (CIES, IOC), allowing us to progressively cover detailed and specific legal aspects within 7 weeks. Then, legal aspects related to sponsoring, merchandising, ticketing, and broadcasting were covered with S.Bock (FIVB) and intellectual property rights protection with M.Diaconu ( UniNE). To do so, the scheme of the course has adopted a holistic approach, moving from the top of the pyramid structure where governing bodies stand to its base, the sportsperson. Governing Bodies and Good Governance practices were presented to us by P.Cornu (CIES), M. Berg (Paralympics) and J.Carr for ASOIF, with illustrated examples in football from speakers representing FIFA and UEFA. Then to help us better understand how the legal framework organises stakeholder relationships, leagues and union representatives, we next attended lectures that outlined the existing systemic governance structure.

As we then moved from the theory to the practice of sports law, the club in house lawyer of FC Barcelona, W.Lambrecht, presented us with real and common cases and agreements that clubs face within a regular season.  Financing and FFP which control legal aspects were further explained to us by A.Zval, M. Jacquemoux and W.McAuliffe who are working within the concerned departments in UEFA. Finally we reached the peculiarities at the base of the sports world pyramid, where we considered the integral aspects that athletes and players are exposed to during their careers. This included contractual regulations in labour law and the regulating of their sporting commitments and responsibilities, personality rights, international taxation and the player agent market, for example. Next J.Kitching from FIFA reviewed the latter aspects with regards to Football: RSTP, Football agents, Transfer of players, Sporting nationalities and qualifications. This then led the discussions to A. Gomez Bruinewoud from FIFPRO to explain the organisation’s mission representing more than 60,000 male and female professional football players worldwide. 

All of the class soon came to realize that studying sports law is not always about law texts and CAS cases, but was also a continuation of what we had seen previously in our studies at SDA Bocconi, concerning sports mega-events characteristics, only with a focus on contractual liabilities, as we discovered with D.Oswald and P.Ducrey when they considered IOC postponing scenarios, or with alumni M. Kaswurm on Unique Events & Sports Rights. And to further diversify perspectives, the course timetable also provided us with comparative models of US and European examples on competitive balance regulations, and the Asian perspective on football law too, rather than lectures being restricted to only Swiss law due to where most governing bodies are based. 

To keep the interaction going within the class, many role-play sessions were organised which additionally allowed us to put ourselves in the shoes of decision-makers, whether this was concerning sports personality cases, from R.Federer to Thai weightlifting athletes for instance, or local organizing committees at FIFA for FCWC qualifying events. As the classes advanced, we embraced the language of virtual codes: visual features in-class meetings of clapping, thumbs up, hands up for questions, and even got introduced by Pierre Lanfranchi to the concept of BVH: Big Virtual Hugs, contextually also standing for our classmates’ name Bruno Van Hellemont.  

Another innovation for our FIFA Master Experience was a Virtual Job Fair, with all 32 members of our class registered to attend the iWorkInSport online event, where 20 sports organisations, such as Juventus, FIFA, IOC, and TEAM,  were present to interview and initiate contact with potential candidates. 

In the midst of this virtual conversion of our current reality, our class’s best moments are now documented souvenirs. Our group pictures are screenshots of our zoom meetings, occasionally themed social online gatherings, and birthday parties converted to birthday videos with creative and genuine messages from all class members, with some using all sorts of emojis and filters to make each video stand out from the other. We have even discovered a new talent of our classmate James Cronin who has designed a couple of crosswords for this edition of the FIFA Master based on indications and clues from both inside and outside of class!

Defying all expectations of our group breaking apart at an earlier point in our FIFA Master experience than expected due to us now being scattered around the globe, we have continued to stay connected and united, reassuring each other as we navigate through this current storm. We remain confident that we will all be together again in the near future. 

Indeed, currently initiatives of reunions are emerging, and the group of 5 members who remained together in France will possibly see an additional 3 joining them soon from neighbouring European countries. That number may rise further as we continue to monitor the pandemic development in 28 countries to find a way of reuniting sooner rather than later! 

“The only source of knowledge is experience” 

Albert Einstein 

Neuchâtel class reps, 

Grégoire Dayde, Evita Schippers, Sara Bilali 


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).

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