Graduation Ceremony Marks Successful Conclusion of the Delivery of the FIFPro Executive Education Programme by the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre

A ceremony at Amsterdam’s iconic Olympic Stadium on the 14th December 2015 saw the conclusion of a year’s hard work and endeavour for seventeen officials from football player associations from 15 countries. The event marked the conclusion of the FIFPro (the world football players’ trade union) Executive Education Programme organised in partnership with the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre, Birkbeck College, University of London. The successful graduates were awarded a Certificate in Professional Education (Postgraduate) from Birkbeck College.

Representatives from the UK home nations’ player unions, PFA Scotland and PFA England, joined colleagues from 13 other countries at the ceremony including officials from; ABF (Bulgaria), Acolfutpro (Costa Rica), AFAN (Romania), AFE (Spain), FPAI (India), HLSZ (Hungary), JPY (Finland), NISO (Norway), PASP (Cyprus), PFAI (Ireland), SAFP (Switzerland), SFS (Sweden), and Spillerforeningen (Denmark).

Tony Higgins, the President of FIFPro’s Education Committee, commented: “It is incumbent upon us at FIFPro to make sure we have a future generation of leaders ready. This type of course will equip these people with the skills to take them, their unions and, in the end,FIFPro forward.”

“It was a tough course, which took a lot of time, but I learned a lot”, said Joachim Walltin, President of NISO Norway and FIFPro Division Europe board member. “I can recommend this programme to all other union executives.”

Anuj Kichlu, International & Commercial Relations manager of the Indian players’ union FPAI, said the programme “had a good balance between the theoretical knowledge of Birkbeck and the practical experiences of other, older associations, especially those from Europe.”

For the Birkbeck academic programme team of Sean Hamil, Dr Andy Harvey, and Professor John Kelly the graduation ceremony marked the successful conclusion of very stimulating and thought-provoking year of debate and discussion with the player union colleagues. Dr Andy Harvey commented: “The FIFPro Executive Education programme was a highly tailored course that utilised a multi-disciplinary team of Birkbeck academics that drew upon expertise in strategic sports management and  trade union education that enabled senior managers of professional players’ associations to develop their own organisations and their international federation to better represent the men and women who make football the world’s most popular sport – the players. The academic team was supported by speakers from FIFPro and  industry experts to make sure that the programme was relevant in practical terms as well as meeting the highest academic standards.”

Sean Hamil, Director of the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre, proposed, on behalf of Birkbeck  “our sincerest congratulations to the seventeen people who dedicated themselves to this course in order to improve the institutions they help to shape every day. Their success is truly earned and we wish to offer our on-going support as they seek to establish new processes and new ways of thinking within their organisations and wider societies. It has been a great pleasure to collaborate with FIFPRO in this innovative project”.

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