International Centre for
Sports Studies

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


Tue. 03 November 2020

Welcome to the 21st Edition of the FIFA Master!

On a sunny September weekend, 25 students from 20 countries arrived at De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester, UK. After a summer of uncertainty, it was a welcome relief to finally be in England, meet our amazing colleagues, and start the FIFA Master! We are so excited to have this opportunity to come together around our shared passion for sport and common goal to work in the sports industry.

To comply with the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 guidelines, we began our time in England with two weeks of self-isolation. Many of us took this as a time to relax and get to know our flat mates, as we are lucky to all live in the same apartment building on the campus, which has helped to create a "bubble" around the class.

The Scientific Committee organized an online induction to officially kick-off the course. We were able to virtually meet everyone involved in the programme and get a taste of what the coming year has in store for us. Professors Pierre Lanfranchi and Martin Polley along with Local Academic Coordinator, James Panter, organized a series of online lectures and activities during this time. These lectures provided a much needed schedule during the self isolation period and more importantly, served as a great opportunity for us students to adjust to our new academic environment.

Once the two weeks of self-isolation was complete, we practically ran out of our flats to explore the streets of Leicester. Our accommodation is between the Leicester town centre, the DMU campus, and the Castle Gardens park. There are plenty of lanes and paths to wander and discover the hidden gems Leicester has to offer.

At last we were able to start in person classes, a much anticipated moment for us all! The classroom looks a little different this year due to necessary COVID-19 precautions. For example, everyone must wear masks inside, all of the desks are socially distanced, and lecturers are unable to walk around the room during class. All of the students and lecturers have taken these constraints in our stride, though. While the physical classroom layout may be different, the level of content, critical analysis, and discussion during our lectures is bar none. Furthermore, we are one of the few classes at DMU to meet in person for face-to-face sessions each week on campus. We are very grateful to CIES and DMU for going the extra mile to ensure we can meet in person for our timetabled lectures.

This first term of the FIFA Master is focused on the history, ethics and evolution of modern sport, and is delivered by the International Centre for Sports History and Culture here at DMU. Our first month of classes has gone by in a flash as each day is filled to the brim. We have already covered three fascinating modules: Tradition and Ethics, Birth of Modern Sport, and Professional Sport in Context. We’ve learned about the ritualistic nature of the ancient Olympics in Greece, the birth of modern sports from elite, British school boy leisure activities to world wide phenomena such as rugby and football, to the development of the Premier League and the European transfer system, and niche sports’ cultures such as the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland and baseball in North America. This rich historical context will provide a strong foundation as we continue to analyse all aspects of the sporting industry throughout the remainder of the Master.

Along the way we’ve been joined by incredible guest lecturers from academic and professional settings. Highlights so far have included, but are not limited to, British stadium expert Simon Inglis who shared his work on how to safely bring spectators back to Premier League matches; Chief Executive of the London Marathon, Nick Bitel, who delivered a great lecture about the many complexities, challenges, and rewards of organizing the London Marathon; Dr. Heather Dichter took us on a whirlwind tour of the history of sports in the USA from the 1800’s to present day; and the famed author and historian David Goldblatt captivated the class during two days of lectures on the history of the Olympics and world football.

One of the most anticipated aspects of the FIFA Masters are the field visits to some of the sports’ most iconic facilities. We have been fortunate to safely have two in-person field visits in this challenging year. First was a tour of the London 2012 Olympic Park to examine the legacy of the Games on the city of London. Next, we had a tour of Rugby School in the charming town of rugby. This school is famous for being the birthplace of the sport of rugby, and also the modern Olympic movement via its connections to Pierre de Coubertin.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, many of our field visits this year have shifted to an online format. However, James Panter has done a fantastic job organizing bespoke, virtual field visits to some of England’s most hallowed grounds. Ben Swann of the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon took us through the history and operations of Wimbledon, explaining everything from how they source their strawberries to how they deliver on their goal to be the most prestigious sporting event in the world. We also had the great opportunity to learn from key personnel at Manchester United FC, including Casey Stoney, the head women’s coach and former England captain, and the Head of Content and MUTV gave us a glimpse into how Manchester United has become a leader in providing digital content to it’s millions of fans across the world. We also had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from Leicester City Football Club who provided us with an overview of how the club has managed its finances and communications from its meteoric rise to Premier League Champions and how its adapted to the numerous challenges of running an organisation during the current crisis.

Outside of the classroom, we have the privilege of living, learning, and laughing with 25 amazing classmates who have quickly become our friends and family away from home. We’ve celebrated birthdays, watched countless football matches, traded endless stories, sampled food from around the world, shared our perspective on the day’s lectures in nuanced discussions, played sports from table tennis to football and basketball, been sightseeing in London and Cambridge, formed a movie club and birthday committee. After months of COVID lockdowns and adjusting to this strange new normal in our home countries, we are so grateful to be in a position and place where we can meet new people and spend many late nights talking about anything and everything.

In a world of uncertainty, we are humbled to be on a journey that allows us to immerse ourselves in the world of sport and keen to embrace everything the coming year has in store for us.


Heather O'Keeffe and Idy Watt - Leicester 2020 Class Reps

FIFA Master - International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport, ranked No.1 Course in Europe 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 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).


As of 1st October 2020 the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) has officially opened the application process for the 22nd edition (2021-2022) of the FIFA Master.

Please note that the deadline for applying is midday (12pm) Central European Time on Friday 8th of January 2021. Only complete applications received by this date will be considered by the Scientific Committee. 

Please click on this link to access the online application form

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