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The Beautiful Game: A Serious Business

Students Gain Industry Insights & Career Opportunities at World Football Summit

A Global Industry

Football as we know it originated from people kicking a ball through the fields and streets of England in the 12th century – an unruly rampage that sometimes led to the death of participants. 

Or maybe it started with the Aztecs over 3,000 years ago. In a game called Tchatali, the Aztecs kicked a bouncing rubber ball over large regions, with the captain of the losing side being sacrificed to the Gods. 

And even earlier in China, in the 3rd and 2nd century BC, there was a game called Cuju, which involved kicking a ball made of leather and filled with feathers. It’s unknown if people died during this game. 

Wherever football was first played, the modern game has evolved into a global industry worth more than $600 billion. The 2022 men’s World Cup final in Qatar reached a global audience of 1.5 billion viewers, with a revenue of $7.5 billion. While the 2023 women’s World Cup generated $570 million, with 53.9 million viewers in China alone watching their match against England.

Of course, it’s not just about the money. With such huge figures also comes responsibility and serious issues to be solved. It is often quoted that more than 6,500 migrant workers died in the construction of the Qatar stadiums. It is also a country where homosexuality is illegal. And Spain’s historic Women’s World Cup win has been overshadowed by a sexism scandal that has dominated global headlines.

Finance and investment is a vital part of the football industry, but so is governance, diversity and sustainability. As the premier connection platform for the world’s most popular sport, the World Football Summit provides voice to its diverse stakeholders and allows them to generate business opportunities. And in a unique partnership with Geneva Business School, 25 of our students attended the Summit in Seville this September.

Industry Insights

3,286 companies. 1,300 speakers. 721 clubs, leagues and federations. With 21,950 attendees, the 2023 World Football Summit connected leaders who want to design a sustainable football industry. It is where industry leaders and stakeholders from all over the globe congregate to help shape the future of the game and its business.

In a specifically tailored partnership arranged by Nicola Jackman (CEO, Spain) and organized by Gregory Shields (Academic Coordinator, Barcelona), students from Geneva Business School had exclusive access to Job Match, Masterclass, and Meet & Greet sessions.

Bachelor and Master students flew into Seville from our campuses in Barcelona, Geneva and Madrid – the students on a range of courses, including International Management, Sports Management, Entrepreneurship, Finance and Digital Marketing.

The Job Match sessions included a special workshop filled with professional tips and tricks to better prepare students for their career in the sports industry. There were exclusive presentations from 20 companies in the sector, followed by a speed networking event where students had the opportunity to interact with company representatives.  

In the Masterclass sessions, students were given invaluable insights from experienced industry professionals. As the CEO of Final Score and former Head of Media at Real Madrid, Miguel Angel Hernandez talked about getting work and becoming a leader in the sports industry. This was his summary:

It’s a tough industry. To get into it, you need to work everyday. Learn, learn, learn. Build a network. And work, work, work.

As the sports and entertainment Growth Lead at TikTok, Jason Jung spoke about the importance of adaptability, reaching out and mentorship. His advice was this:

If you don’t have a mentor, find one.

In the Meet & Greet sessions, our students had the one-off opportunity to have a 30 minute meeting with Gregory Carey (Managing Director of Goldman Sachs) and Sir Martin Sorrell (Founder of WPP & S4 Capital).

With his extensive project finance experience, Gregory Carey answered questions on investments, debt, franchises, ownership and financial fair play within football – interacting with students on a professional level.

As a global leader in the marketing and communications industry, Sir Martin provided fascinating insights on wide-ranging topics – from data and AI to sponsorship, short term versus long term profit, deglobalization to world conflict, and the importance of balancing career with family and society. 

As well as Asia and the Middle East being crucial for the future of the sports industry, Sir Martin also saw Latin America as being critically important: 

In Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay – the creative and technological talent is extremely good. And in Buenos Aires, for example, one of the main reasons is because of football.

Sir Martin outlined how he thought long term profit should be maximized rather than short term profit, that football clubs should be using data more than they do, and gave this career advice:

Family, career, society. The world is a crazy place. So it’s really important to balance those three things, if you can.

The Job Match, Masterclass and Meet & Greet sessions were all illuminating and extremely beneficial for the students. As Academic Coordinator at our Barcelona campus, Gregory Shields was particularly impressed with the interaction of students during the private sessions with Gregory Carey, Sir Martin Sorrell and Jason Young. 

During these exclusive sessions, our students were mentored on the importance of confidence, resilience, agility, seizing the opportunity, hard work with some brilliant self reflective additional careers advice. The evolving financial and ownership models in sports were discussed along with the volatile geopolitical climate within which sport must now operate. With so much to take in, here is how Gregory Shields summed up the whole experience:

The World Football Summit delivered an amazing experience for our students who gained industry insight from expert speakers, fabulous networking opportunities, and a tremendous validation of their studies, with accelerated learning during exclusive masterclass and meet and greet sessions.

Student Opportunities

Modern-day football is a multi-billion, global industry. It is not easy to get into and there are challenges to overcome, but by attending events like the World Football Summit, students gain invaluable professional insights and vital networking opportunities for whatever career they are seeking.

For Marketing Masters student Lorena Campos, the highlight was being granted a one-to-one meeting with Theresa Carvi, Production Manager at La Liga TV – with Lorena given tips about breaking into the industry as a woman and setting up a future follow-up meeting.

Another current student, Nicholas Grinde, is studying for a Masters in Sports Management. After attending all the sessions, he was full of enthusiasm:

It’s an amazing opportunity to hear from industry leaders. For me, a major takeaway is how data is becoming so important in football. And it’s also really good for networking. So I would recommend any future students to attend.

And while we were at the Summit, we also bumped into Geneva Business School alumni, Amy Wanday. She perfectly summed up the opportunities students gain from studying with us:

Over the past two years, I managed to obtain a job in the sports industry through the connections I made while studying at Geneva Business School. I’m here today still learning, still growing, still continuing to build my skills and network in the sports industry.

With current students and alumni getting so much out of the World Football Summit, it is an event not to be missed. And it is yet another reason why studying at Geneva Business School gives students the opportunity to be future business leaders.