Thursday 14 December 2023, 17:00

FIFA President opens FIFA Diploma in Club Management session in Jeddah

  • Gianni Infantino tells participants “top management” key across world football

  • Initiative launched in 2021 to raise standards at clubs off the pitch

  • FIFA Legends Carli Lloyd, Tim Cahill and John Terry among second edition participants

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has opened the FIFA Diploma in Club Management session in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, telling the participants that include FIFA Legends, current players, and club executives that “top management” is key to giving fans high-grade club football worldwide. The FIFA Diploma in Club Management was launched in 2021 with the aim of levelling up off-the-pitch standards around the world. In line with FIFA’s goal of making football truly global, the initiative provides club executives from across FIFA’s six confederations the opportunity to share knowledge, and be exposed to management best practice. Potential graduates, who include FIFA Legends Tim Cahill, Carli Lloyd and John Terry, current players like Juan Mata and Fernandinho, and club executives such as Julie Uhrman, founder and President of Angel City FC, and Fatou Binetou Ba, Deputy General Director at Académie Génération Foot, heard the FIFA President emphasise the significance of the skills and know-how they are developing.

“I’m very proud that we have champions and FIFA Legends present who come every year to this course, but also that we have representatives – women and men – from all over the world participating, because one of our missions is to make football truly global,” Mr Infantino told the final working session of the second edition of the scheme. “We need to bring football, top football, top club football, to all parts of the world and that starts, of course, with top management. That’s why - at FIFA - we want to share the experience and unite the world through football.”

The course started in mid-September 2022, and will finish there at FIFA headquarters in March with a graduation ceremony at which participants must present their final project: a strategic plan. “This Programme is a unique networking and knowledge-sharing platform which helps our club executives to build relations and raise the game for their respective clubs,” explained Ornella Bellia, Co-Director of the FIFA Diploma in Club Management, and FIFA Director of Professional Football Relations and Development. “During the course of the Programme they have to work on a strategic plan, setting long-term objectives and how they will get there.” Besides that, the participants have had a series of online and on-site sessions, completing course content covering a broad range of fundamental themes from club operations and stadium management to sporting strategy and negotiation skills.

“Being from New Zealand, the bottom of the world, not really a footballing country, because rugby is the number one sport and cricket is our number one summer sport, the opportunity to connect with like-minded officials and managers within the sport was incredible,” said David Dome, CEO of Wellington Phoenix, and one of the course’s 41 participants. “And being facilitated by FIFA and the connections that we’ve made, I can’t speak highly enough about it, about the chances we’ve had, and the ability to make connections throughout the football world that this diploma has given us.” “We wanted at least 50 clubs from all around the world, every region of the world, to compete at the highest level. With this programme, we democratise access to knowledge, we democratise football in general, and we give the opportunity to all these clubs from everywhere to be able to compete at the highest level,” added Ms Bellia, who has seen representatives from clubs in Nepal, Malta, Uganda and Guatemala, among others, join those from more established football nations on the course. “We believe it's fundamental that there are more and more clubs that are able to dream big – not only for the club, but for the communities, for the fans [and] for the players that are there. So, in the end, the whole ecosystem will benefit from the growth of clubs all around the world.”