NYON, Switzerland – A total of 19 graduates, among them IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner, received their Executive Master in European Sport Governance (MESGO) at a ceremony at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland – and have been urged to use the knowledge they have gained to nurture the well-being of sports in the coming years.
The candidates have successfully completed the 18-month course – the inaugural one in a programme which centres on sports governance in the current-day sporting world. The MESGO project has been pioneered by five renowned universities.
The successful graduates were encouraged by several speakers at the ceremony to make profitable use of their new expertise. “Today is a historic day,” said Gianni Infantino, the General Secretary of UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations. “Today marks the beginning of what will be known as the Sports Governance Spring – you are the leaders of this new evolutionary movement in sports governance, and you will shape, with your experience, the future of European and international sport.”
As well as UEFA, other team sport partners – European Handball Federation (EHF); International Basketball Federation – Europe (FIBA – Europe); European Rugby Association (FIRA-AER); and the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) – are giving their support, and will be joined for the upcoming second edition of the MESGO scheme by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
FIBA General Secretary Nar Zanolin highlighted the hard work that lies ahead for future sporting leaders. “You have gone through a long journey,” he told the graduates. “Hopefully you have learned a lot, and hopefully you will take this back to whatever sport you are involved in, in whatever capacity, and help the development of sport through proper governance.”
The IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner, who was a participant in the first course, passed on the same message: “Thank you to the universities for this brilliant idea and thank you to the federations for their support. It's time to shape the future and we are the pioneers. I'm confident that we will be able to contribute to the further development of the sports we love.”
The Executive Master in European Sport Governance – designed to assist decision-makers in adapting to modern-day realities and demands – is open to experienced managers and executives working in international, European and national sports federations; clubs, leagues and trade unions; European institutions and governments; and partners of sporting organisations such as media or sponsors. The Europe-wide programme features courses in Paris, Brussels, London, Barcelona, Mainz/Frankfurt, Geneva/Lyon/Lausanne and New York.
The overall course has been established by a number of academic bodies: Birkbeck Sports Business Centre, Birkbeck College, University of London; Centre de Droit et d'Economie du Sport (CDES), Université de Limoges; Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz; Institut Nacional d'Educació Física de Catalunya (INEFC); University of Lleida; and Sciences Po, Paris. Its topics include context of international sport, sports organisations, governance, legal framework, marketing challenges, sports events, ethics, the North American model, and the future of sport governance amid dramatic changes within professional sport in recent times.
“It is a very special moment for you as graduates, and also a very special moment for the universities,” said Sciences Po executive director Inge Kerkloh-Devif. “As you will have a diploma of Sciences Po, you will join a network with 53,000 other alumni – some of whom you may know. Welcome to these alumni. I hope it was an interesting experience and perhaps you will have new ideas to implement. You can be proud, you will be at the beginning of this new adventure. Sciences Po is also proud to be part of this academic family helping to make this programme happen.”
“When we started to think about this training, the goal was very ambitious,” CDES executive director Didier Primault added. “The project was something like our Champions League, but we have been able to build a dream team [of universities and federations]. And the project became a reality thanks to you as participants.”
“MESGO is an international project, there are a lot of relationships, and people have to be cooperative and disciplined to make it work,” said Sean Hamil from the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre. “I can say that it's been a tremendous group to work with – academic and sporting partners.”
This story is published with the kind consent of UEFA.