“The legs of a 20-year-old are made to travel the world,” wrote the French poet Christian Bobin.
The same can be said of the International Centre of Sports Studies (CIES), which was founded 20 years ago in Switzerland and which, through the FIFA/CIES network, has made its presence felt across the globe in working with 16 partners from South Africa and Senegal to Spain, Lebanon and Peru.
The scientific institution welcomed the world to the shores of Lake Neuchatel on Saturday as it celebrated its 20th anniversary. Founded in 1995 by FIFA and the Canton, City and University of Neuchatel, CIES has brought its expertise and experience to bear for the last two decades in serving the world of sport.
“I would like to congratulate CIES for its 20 years of unstinting service to international sport," wrote FIFA President Blatter in a recent issue of the FIFA Weekly. "The founding of CIES gave sport and football in particular the opportunity to earn its academic spurs.
“FIFA is proud of how CIES has evolved and wishes to thank the other founding members, namely the Canton, City and University of Neuchatel, for having put their faith in a pioneering project for the creation of a sports study centre in 1995. This was the fundamental idea when we launched the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES)… exactly 20 years ago.
“We are generating the human resources and guaranteeing the expertise required to give football an organisational, administrative and logistical foundation for the future. The FIFA Master… reflects the educational power of our sport. Whatever applies on the pitch must also apply beyond the touchline – in families, communities and educational institutions.”
Adopting a multi-disciplinary approach that encompasses law, sociology, geography, economical and history, CIES has been providing research, educational and consultancy services to the wider sports community since its creation. In that time, Joseph S. Blatter has, understandably, been one of its most active founders and was only too pleased to attend the anniversary ceremony.
“Thanks to this unique partnership, over the last two decades CIES has implemented a number of research and training projects in the field of sport and in football in particular, the impact of which is recognised around the world,” commented the FIFA President, who watched the festivities from the front row and was joined at the event by CIES colleagues past and present, leading political figures and sports personalities and by friends of CIES.
See you in 2020
The success of this international collaboration over the last 20 years was symbolised a few days ago, when more than 60 members of the FIFA/CIES International University Network gathered in Zurich and Neuchatel on 23-26 August for the network’s fourth seminar.
Taking place three years after the third such event, which was held in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, the aim of this latest gathering was to share experiences and explore different ways of improving working methods and cooperation between academic partners.
Fresh from exploring the Swiss Alps, the participants took stock of their activities and debated the role of the sports manager in the 21st century. Their discussions gave them an insight into potential avenues for better adapting teaching and training to the world of sport today, both globally and on a national level.
Other issues up for discussion were the promotion of the FIFA/CIES Programme, the links between the programme and national sports organisations, former students’ associations and to the significance of organising certain courses in an environment that can sometimes be very competitive.
The seminar came to a close with a conference entitled: “The development of football at FIFA from 2011 to 2014: the diversification of services, results and the implementing of reforms”, at the end of which participants posed a number of questions on the work carried out by world football’s governing body on the ground.
One of the most convincing responses was the success of its 20-year partnership with CIES, with the FIFA President commenting: “I call on everyone to come together in five years time to celebrate 25 years of CIES.”