The Ninth and Final MESGO session in Silicon Valley.

The final session of the seventh edition of MESGO, dedicated to leadership and innovation, took place from 29 April to 2 May in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

This session was led by Jean-Philippe Bonardi, Director of the Enterprise for Society Center and Full Professor at HEC Lausanne, University of Lausanne.

Jean-Philippe Bonardi, session director and Full Professor, HEC Lausanne.

Throughout the week, MESGO participants had the opportunity to attend the presentations at the following locations across Silicon Valley and San Francisco:

  • Plug and Play Tech Center
  • The Computer History Museum
  • Stanford University
  • Golden State Warriors – Chase Center

The session covered a wide range of topics related to innovation, leadership and sport. In particular, what creates an innovative ecosystem and its applicability to sport ecosystems; the current technology revolution and the opportunities created by technologies such as artificial intelligence, digital, metaverse, etc; how to develop an entrepreneurial and innovation mindset and how it is linked to leadership; how to manage innovation in an organisation.

A warm thank you to all the speakers for their high-quality contributions to the session!

At Plug and Play: Presentation about Disrupting Disruption by Pascal Finette, CEO, Be Radical.

At Plug and Play: Welcome speech by Saeed Amidi, CEO and Founder, Plug and Play.

At the Computer Museum: Presentation about How was the Silicon Valley eco-system built up? by Crystal Chang, Lecturer, University of California, Berkeley.

At the Computer Museum: Presentation about Silicon Valley: The view of a Venture Capitalist by Eric Buatois, General Partner, Benhamou Global Ventures.

At Stanford University: Presentation about Innovation start-ups – Large organisations versus start-ups by Sukemasa Kabayama, UPLIFT (and former manager at Apple and Tesla).

At Stanford University: Presentation about Developing an entrepreneurial mindset/Developing innovation beyond tech by Larry Keeley, Innovation Scientist, Keeley Innovations LLC & Former President and Co-Founder, Doblin Inc.

At the Golden State Warriors: Presentation about Golden State Warrior and the management of innovation by Daniel Brusilovsky, Vice President of Technology, Golden Gate Warriors.

At the Golden State Warriors: Presentation about Innovation mindset and purpose by Mike Geddes, Co-founder and Chief Purpose Officer, Oakland Roots.

Participants also enjoyed some fun social events, including a Guided Bike Tour of Silicon Valley and a Mixology Course.

The MESGO participants will meet again at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on 3 and 4 October as part of the viva voce exam session, during which they will each defend their professional thesis. The graduation ceremony on Friday 4 October will mark the conclusion of the seventh edition of the programme.

Session 8 in New York – North American Model of Sport

After six sessions in Europe and one in Asia, the MESGO team made their way to New York from 23 to 26 April 2024 to learn more about the North American sports model.

Co-directed by Francesc Solanellas, Professor of Sports Management at the National Institute of Physical Education (INEFC) and Jean-François Brocard, Associate Professor and Economist at the Centre for Law and Economics of Sport (CDES), this eighth session aimed to present the organisation of sport in North America from a legal, economic and sociological perspective.

During the four-day session, the MESGO group was hosted at key locations such as Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), St John’s University and Major League Baseball.

The participants had the opportunity to discuss with distinguished speakers the unique characteristics of the American sport system, such as salary caps, the draft and revenue-sharing systems, as well as the organisation and importance of North American college sports.

On the Wednesday evening, participants had the privilege to experience a beautiful New York City sunset and illuminated cityscape during a dinner cruise.

The next and final MESGO VII session will take place in Silicon Valley from 29 April to 2 May and will focus on leadership and innovation.

Congratulations Jernej!

MESGO VI graduate Jernej Smisl has been appointed Managing Director of PRISTOP, the leading communications and consulting agency in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana.

Jernej, who has been with PRISTOP since October 2022 and previously held the position of Director of Corporate Consulting, has been promoted to the role of Managing Director. With a broad range of skills including public relations, market research, marketing communications, marketing strategy, brand management and more, he has made and continues to make a significant contribution to the corporate industry, in advising and guiding companies in their strategic planning and marketing initiatives.

In addition to his role at Pristop, he has held esteemed positions that have further enriched his professional profile, including serving as the former President of HC Celje Pivovarna Laško, a renowned handball team and former EHF Velux Champions League winner.

On behalf of the entire MESGO community, we wish him the very best of success in his new role!

Congratulations Sarah!

Sarah Solémalé, MESGO VI graduate, has accepted a new position as Account Manager in the Membership Department of the European Club Association (ECA).

As of February 2024, Sarah Solémalé will join the ECA from FIFA, where she was Legal Counsel in the Players’ Status Department before joining the Member Associations Governance Services Department as Manager before being promoted to Senior Manager.

With over 10 years of experience in handling transfer and employment litigations, supporting member associations on governance issues, advising on external judicial and arbitral systems, and drafting internal regulations and guidelines, Sarah has now decided to combine her love of football and her exceptional knowledge of sports law and governance-related matters to focus on the development of European football clubs.

On behalf of the entire MESGO community, we would like to wish her the best of success in her new role!

A MESGO week dedicated to Future of Sport

The seventh session of the seventh edition of MESGO, dedicated to the future of sport, took place in Tokyo from 15 to 19 January 2024 and was directed by Holger Preuss, Professor at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz.

The Tokyo session was an ideal opportunity for MESGO participants to consider the future challenges they might face as leaders in the sport industry in the years ahead and to analyse their specific organisations in the light of Japanese culture and sport.

During the five-day session, the MESGO group was welcomed in the heart of prestigious venues such as the Kodokan Judo Institute, the Japan Football Association, Japan Sport Olympic Square, Waseda University and Rakuten.

The MESGO group at the Japan Football Association.

Throughout the week, participants had the opportunity to discuss and exchange views with experts on topics as diverse as the future of sport governance and the challenges facing sport organisations; climate change and its implications for sport; the impact of the new geopolitical order and how it affects sport; why and how future game formats will change; how to use sport for development and peace and inevitably, technology.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all the speakers who contributed to this session and to Haruki Uemura (President, Kodokan Judo Institute), Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (General Secretary, Japan Football Association), Mitsugi Oagata (Secretary General, Japan Olympic Committee), Hirotaka Matsuoka (Dean, Waseda University) and Kentaro Hyakuno (Executive Vice President, Rakuten) for their warm welcome and consideration.

Outside of the classroom, participants were able to immerse themselves in Japanese culture through new culinary discoveries, taking part in judo practice and watching a sumo tournament.

The next MESGO session will take place in New York from 23-26 April 2024 and will be dedicated to the North American model of sport.

The MESGO in London for the sixth session

From 30 October to 3 November, MESGO VII participants were in London for the sixth session of the programme, dedicated to Strategic Marketing and Communications and led by Roman Putsch, Head of Marketing Activities and Digital at UEFA.

Roman Putsch, session Director and Head of Marketing Activities at UEFA.

The session covered a range of topics including sponsorship and TV rights, sport-specific marketing strategies, fan engagement and digital marketing. Insights were gained from a variety of perspectives, including federations, brands and broadcasters, and refined with a unique focus on strategic and crisis communications.

During the five-day session, the MESGO group was hosted in the heart of prestigious venues such as Chelsea FC, Wimbledon, Brentford FC, Tottenham Stadium and The Shard.

At Chelsea FC: Presentation about “The importance of a strong brand – why and how a defining and delivering a differentiated brand will grow your business” by Adrian Goldthorpe (CEO, Lothar Böhm Associates).

At Wimbledon: Presentation about “Digital Marketing – how you can grow fandom and evolve the business model” by Richard Ayers (Chairman, 7L).

At Brentford FC: Panel discussion about the perspective of global brands on the future of sponsorship with Adam Warner (Head of Global Sports and Partnerships, PepsiCo), Mark Osikoya (CEO, Commonwealth Games England), Kieran Nokes (Sponsorship Manager, UEFA) and Annie Panter (Managing Director, Ventures, Two Circles).

At Tottenham Stadium: Presentation about “The media rights market: trends and trajectories” by Minal Modha (Research Director – Consumer Research Lead, Ampere Analysis).

At Tottenham Stadium: Presentation about “Strategic communication: communication as a tool to achieve the organisation objectives” by Amanda Docherty (Director, Dial Square and Programme Director, UEFA).

At the Shard: Presentation and workshop about “Communication in action” by John Bailey (Managing Consultant, Global Communications Consulting).

MESGO sessions are also an opportunity for participants to share special moments. Several team-building activities took place during the week, including a fitness class in Hyde Park and an indoor golf activity. Participants also had the opportunity to attend the Rumble in the Jungle show, a live immersive experience.

The next MESGO session will take place in Tokyo, Japan from 15-19 January 2024 and will be dedicated to the future of sport.

MESGO congratulates Khais Rahmanie and Paolo Ghiglione!

Two MESGO VII participants have been appointed to new senior positions.

Khais Rahmanie has stepped into the role of Senior Manager, Sport, Culture and Entertainment at RISE – Marketing and Commercial Consultancy in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

After graduating from law school, Khais worked as a sports lawyer for private law firms, where he dealt with cases related to contractual disputes, training compensation, solidarity mechanisms and doping.

In 2017, he moved to the United Arab Emirates and worked for the Spanish professional football league as the Business Development Delegate for Central Asia, with the aim of creating and implementing a cross-functional strategy to increase the value of the LaLiga brand in the Central Asian market.

Most recently, he held the position of Professional Sports Senior Specialist at the Department of Community Development of the Government of Abu Dhabi, where he worked on the Emirate’s Sports Vision and contributed to the development and implementation of initiatives to promote an active and healthy lifestyle in Abu Dhabi.

Paolo Ghiglione has taken up a new position as Global Business Development Advisor at Soccerment, an innovative sport data analytics company.

With a degree in Business and Economics, Paolo’s professional experience focuses on sales, marketing and business development in an entrepreneurial environment.

Paolo has been working for multinational companies and online start-ups for over 20 years and has built up a strong knowledge and experience in the football industry. He specialises in building and managing a high-performance global sales force, designing and implementing business models and identifying development trends.

He was previously Director of Partnerships at Kitman Labs, an industry-leading sport analytics company using AI to optimise athlete performance and health. His role there was to develop partnerships with sports leagues and GBs worldwide.

On behalf of all the MESGO community we would like to wish them the best of success in their new role!

MESGO Alumni gets together in Bucharest in the context of the UEFA Academy Summit

The MESGO Alumni Association got together in Bucharest on 22 September 2023, for their Annual General Assembly meeting.

A crucial part of the General Assembly is the committee election of board members, and the MESGO team is pleased to congratulate Kevin Ashby (MESGO IV graduate) on his re-election as President of the Alumni Association.

Kevin Ashby, President of the MESGO Alumni Association

The board is made up of the following members (from left to right):

  • Heidi Beha, Team Lead Development Programmes Europe, FIFA – MESGO IV
  • Kevin Ashby (President), Senior Digital Content Manager, UEFA – MESGO IV
  • Elisa Turrioni (Treasurer), Administrative and Organisational Manager, Bonzini – MESGO IV 
  • Robert Pongracz, Senior Director, Global account management, Football Events, IMG – MESGO II
  • Alex Gerontikos, VP Sales Europe, Sportradar – MESGO IV
  • Ciska du Plessis-Austin, Strategic Advisor and Acting VP Finances, Cycling South Africa – MESGO V (not in photo)

After the election of the committee board members, the objectives of the association were discussed. The key-note speaker, Răzvan Burleanu, President of the Romanian Football Federation and a MESGO IV graduate, then presented the plans of the Romanian Football Federation and spoke about the progress and the transformational path that has been taken to achieve success.

Răzvan Burleanu, President of the Romanian Football Federation

The Alumni association was created in 2015 to produce a formal network of top professionals in sports governance and ensure that knowledge sharing will continue between former MESGO participants.

A huge thank you to all the MESGO alumni who attended the meeting and looking forward to meeting you all again soon.

Congratulations Robert!

Robert Caldwell, a participant from the MESGO current edition, has started a new position as VP of Legal & General Counsel of Real Salt Lake (Major League Soccer) and Utah Royals FC (National Women’s Soccer League).

After law school, Robert worked for a private law firm in Las Vegas, where his practice focused on sports law, international law, and business transactions and litigation. He represented athletes and teams across multiple sports, including assisting ownership groups in purchasing existing teams or starting expansion franchises.

In 2020, he moved to Miami to help Khabib Nurmagomedov found Eagle FC, a start-up mixed martial arts (MMA) league. Their successful first event drew 500,000 viewers from more than 180 countries around the world.

Following this, he has decided to follow his heart back to football and is now the VP of Legal & General Counsel for Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the expansion Utah Royals FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

On behalf of all the MESGO community we would like to wish him the best of success in his new role!

The MESGO team in Barcelona for session 5

From Monday 26 to Friday 30 June 2023, the MESGO VII participants were in Barcelona for the fifth session of the programme, which was dedicated to sports events and participation.

Organised by Francesc Solanellas, professor in sports management at Institut Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya (National Physical Education Institute of Catalonia), this session was aimed at examining how sports events are organised by taking a look at the various stakeholders, stages and procedures involved in different sports and events of varying scales. The topic of participation was also tackled, given the impact that events have on sports and the common strategic objective of national and international federations to promote their respective sports.

Francesc Solanellas, session director and professor of sport management at INEFC.

During this week, the MESGO participants were warmly welcomed by the Institut Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya (INEFC); the RCD Espanyol Stadium, the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit and Barcelona World Race.

The MESGO group at RCD Espanyol Stadium.

The MESGO group at the circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

We would like to sincerely thank all the speakers who contributed to this session including key representatives of MESGO sports partners (FIBA, IIHF and UEFA) who did us the honour of attending the seminar. A special thanks goes to Robert Rieblinger, 3X3 Development Manager (FIBA) and Florian Pasquet, National Federations and Sport Senior Manager (FIBA) for their contribution to the case study on the future development of 3×3 Basketball, which was debated by the participants.

Andreas Schär, Managing Director, Euro 2024

Barbara Storaci, Senior Project Manager, Football Planning & Services, UEFA

Leslie Ryan, Event Director, America’s Cup

Manel Arroyo, Strategic Advisor, DORNA

Gorka Llort, Director of Digital Business, MotoGP

Jeremy Cottino, Membership Project Leader, European Club Association

Neil Beecroft, Chief Disruption Officer, The Shift Agency

Layne Vandenberg, Executive Office Project Manager, UEFA

Miguel Crespo, Head Participation and Education, International Tennis Federation
Rachel Pavlou, Women’s Development Manager – Diversity & Inclusion, The English FA
Kalle Valiäho, Development Director, International Ice Hockey Federation

André Fläckel, Head of Gaming and Esports, Infront Sports
Gustavo Arellano, Head of Commercial Development, FIBA

As usual, team-building events were organised during the week, in this case, participants competed against each other in a kart racing competition and experienced the Barcelona skyline in a unique way cruising aboard a catamaran.

The next MESGO session, which will focus on strategic marketing and communication, will take place in London (UK) from 30 October to 3 November 2023.