It has been a long year, but now students of the FIFA Master are well and truly into the final stretch. And, as has become tradition, the scholars on the programme, in partnership with the CIES (International Center for Sports Studies), paid a visit on 4 April to world football's headquarters in Zurich, where they were treated to words from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Director of International Relations Jerome Champagne to see them home.

Twenty-nine students - 16 men and 13 women - are two-thirds of the way through the eighth FIFA Master Edition. Currently housed at Neuchatel University (Switzerland) where they are studying legal aspects of the world of sport, they have already completed two terms: at De Montfort University in Leicester (UK), learning a humanities module and at the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan (Italy), where sports management is taught.

The class of 2007/08, comprising 22 different nationalities from Peru to Nepal and from backgrounds ranging from engineering to law, grouped inside FIFA's house where President Blatter expressed his hope that they would go on to instill the ideas and lessons they had learned onto a wider world.

"Sport is so important that we need professional managers. The only way to have that is by educating them" he said.

The students, some of whom will return to their native lands at the end of July to impart the knowledge they have picked up on the course, listened attentively about FIFA's philosophy of promoting the local game, redistributing wealth among its associations, while standing up to the pressures of big business.

With the trip as a motivation for another two more months of hard work, the 29 students are in the perfect place to make a big impression on the world of football.