Verdiana Ciccone, a graduate from the URJC/RFEF/FIFA/CIES International Programme in Sports Management has just completed the FIFA Master. Here, she talks to us about the experiences and memories she gained during more than ten months of studies, as well as her plans for the future.
Where are you from and what were your professional activities before starting the FIFA Master?
I am from Monopoli, a city of about 50,000 inhabitants in the south-east of Italy. Before starting the FIFA Master, I was a Junior Sales Manager in the tourism sector in Puglia. This is one of the regions in Italy that is experiencing strong development in this field. At the same time, I was offering my services as a freelance interpreter and translator.
What were your first impressions of Switzerland, where you took the third part of the FIFA Master, for the Sports Law module?
First of all, punctuality is a religion in Switzerland, and that stressed me out the first few days. Besides, what struck me was the calmness you feel in Neuchâtel. It is such a pleasant city. I found a totally different vibe to what you experience in Milan and Leicester. But I think this contributes to the beauty of the FIFA Master: the enriching diversity it offers.
Do you have any particular memories of your experiences in Leicester and Milan?
Frankly speaking, there have been so many memories that it is difficult to choose some over others!
In Leicester, I really liked the lectures on the history of sport given by Professor Martin Polley. As for the field trips, I will never forget the time we went to Wimbledon. And the Leicester - Napoli Europa League match we were able to attend during the module, only three days after my arrival in this British city. Apart from the academic sides, I really enjoyed the “Secret Santa” we organized amongst us in the last day we spent in the city famous as the home of the “Foxes”.
As for the Milan module, I felt very privileged to be able to admire "my team" - namely Inter – several times in San Siro and to see them win the Supercoppa! Meeting Javier Zanetti on the last day of class was another golden moment. Last but not least, I cannot forget the dinner organised at the “Tavola della Felicitá” by two of our ‘Latinas’ colleagues. It was a one of the best moments of our team building in Italy.
Why did you decide to dedicate almost a year to the FIFA Master? Was it a difficult decision for professional or family reasons?
I decided to dedicate one year to the FIFA Master because I wanted to broaden my horizons and understand the international opportunities that sport could offer me. It was not easy economically and I hope that in the next few years there will be more scholarships available for students. On a personal level, starting the FIFA Master was my biggest challenge, especially after the pandemic. But I am really happy to have taken that flight to Leicester last September, where the adventure started.
Was the FIFA/CIES International Programme you attended in Spain helpful in preparing you for this great experience? If yes, in what way?
I think the FIFA/CIES International Programme was useful because of its propaedeutic content for the FIFA Master. It is a good academic introduction to the main topics in sport management. Furthermore, I understood how vital networking is in sport during that course in Spain at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and the Real Federación Española de Fútbol.
What are the three main challenges facing sports organisations today?
Sustainability, especially in the environmental field, activism in sport and the retention of generation Z.
Who will be the sports manager of tomorrow? What qualities should he or she have?
The manager of tomorrow should have a comprehensive view on the world of sport and the issues mentioned above. In addition, he or she will have to be innovative and change-oriented considering that, until now, sport has been mainly governed by white men only.
Now that the FIFA Master is over, what do you intend to do?
I hope to finally meet up again with my friends from the URJC/RFEF/FIFA/CIES International Programme in Madrid and also relax a bit in Puglia. Then, of course, I will start applying for jobs!
What is your favourite sportsperson?
Without hesitation: Roger Federer
What will you be doing in 20 years’ time?
I will be contributing to make an impact through sport by leveraging on different international programmes within a sports foundation.