by Michael Pedersen, originally published on

As is the case for any other sector, continuously educating operational and political sport leaders is a critical foundation for ensuring that sport governing bodies are well managed and well led. Furthermore, educating sport leaders in the area of sport governance is particularly critical in ensuring that sport governing bodies become fit for purpose in the 21st century.

With a focus on the case of the Executive Master in European Sport Governance (MESGO), this 16th contribution of mine for iSportconnect’s expert column on sport governance offers perspectives on governance education for sport leaders. Based on publicly available information and an interview with key persons in the MESGO organization, the contribution examines aspects such as how to define sport governance and how to govern an educational programme. Last but not least, the contribution also offers some critical questions for sport leaders to consider, as they start the process of modernizing their governance standards for the future.

My 17th contribution will be published early 2015. It is going to offer perspectives on national frameworks for good governance in sport with a particular focus on the Sports Governance Principles of the Australian Sports Commission.

MPedersen_EC1By sport for sport

The Executive Master in European Sport Governance (MESGO) is an 18-month, post-graduate, part-time masters programme. It aims at improving governance in sport by bringing together and educating a diverse group of sport leaders with substantial experience from across European countries, sports and functional specialties.

MESGO stands out in several noteworthy ways. First of all, the Executive Master is developed and managed in collaboration between European sport governing bodies overseeing different sports and universities based in different European countries. Second, it draws on a mix of several academic disciplines; political science, management, economy and law. Third, the programme offers engagement with and teaching by a mix of academics and practitioners. Last not least, it offers high levels of analysis and tools for participants to apply to their own contexts.

A holistic approach

The Executive Master in European Sport Governance (MESGO) is comprised of nine four-day sessions. The sessions take place in different countries over the course of eighteen months, with a sport governing body or a university as the host. The sessions offer a mix of opportunities for acquiring factual knowledge and critical thinking; through pre-readings, lectures, case studies, role-plays, discussions and writing a professional thesis. Aspects of sport governance covered are as follows:

Session 1: Context of International Sport

Session 2: Governance of Sports Organisations

Session 3: Competition Design and Regulation

Session 4: Legal Frameworks

Session 5: Strategic Marketing

Session 6: Sports Events

Session 7: Ethics

Session 8: The North American Model

Session 9: The Future of Sport Governance

Participation from across sports and countries

The Executive Master in European Sport Governance (MESGO) offers quite some diversity in terms of the composition of its classes. Out of 23 participants, the MESGO III Class has 20 nationalities represented who work in 19 different countries, including with European and international sport governing bodies. The average age of participants is 41 years with the youngest participant being 29 years old and the oldest participant being 50 years old. Six different sports are represented with 14 participants coming from football. Two participants are women. All participants have operational leadership roles (professional staff) as opposed to political leadership roles (board members).

To some extent, sport leaders having graduated from MESGO have now started moving into higher positions in their own organizations or in other sport governing bodies.

Governance model that includes all partnersMPedersen_EC2

The Executive Master in European Sport Governance (MESGO) comprises a partnership between academic partners and sport partners. Academic partners comprise Birkbeck Sports Business Centre at University of London (United Kingdom), Centre de Droit et d’Économie du Sport at University of Limoges (France), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Germany), Institut Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya at University of LLeida (Spain) and Sciences Po (France). Sport partners comprise European Volleyball Confederation (CEV), European Handball Federation (EHF), International Basketball Federation – Division Europe (FIBA Europe), Rugby Europe, International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

The Executive Master is governed by two committees; a Management Committee and a Scientific Committee. The Management Committee oversees MESGO as such and is comprised of representatives from all academic partners and sport partners. The Scientific Committee oversees the curriculum and selection and assessment of candidates. It is comprised of academic partners only. The Centre de Droit et d’Économie du Sport at University of Limoges (France) manages the MESGO coordination with all partners. Sciences Po (Paris) hosts a MESGO Secretariat.

MESGO is funded partly through contributions by its sport partners and partly through a participant fee (EUR 16,600 per participant, excl. travel and accommodation for the nine sessions).

Next class to start in 2016

The current MESGO III Class started in September 2014 and will conclude in April 2016. Applications for the MESGO IV Class will be accepted as of January 2016 with the Class starting in September 2016.

Applicants must have at least five years of experience, mainly in sport, an academic diploma and a good command of English. Two different academic partners review all applications independently. 40 candidates are shortlisted for interviews. In selecting the candidates, MESGO strives to ensure high levels of diversity in terms of sports and countries represented in a class.

MESGO is also organizing various opportunities for its alumni to stay connected after graduating.

Critical questions for sport leaders to consider

The leadership of MESGO offers a lot of insights and inspiration regarding what it takes to educate sport leaders for tomorrow. Critical questions for sport leaders to consider, as they start modernizing governance standards for the future, include:

– What is the role of education in ensuring good governance in sport?

– To what extent should governance education be focused on teaching sport leaders what good governance looks like, and to what extent should it be focused on teaching sport leaders how to motivate and drive behavioural change among their peers?

– How broadly or narrowly should governance teaching be scoped, in terms of areas to cover and in terms of the depth of the various areas covered? – Which are the similarities and differences between good governance in sport and good management practices in sport?

– Who should pay for governance education of sport leaders? – To what extent should sport leaders pay themselves and to what extent should their sport governing bodies pay?

– How do you best ensure that both operational leadership (professional staff) and political leadership (board members) undergo continued governance education?

– How can an educational institution best showcase a model case of good governance in the way that it governs educational programmes? – What should transparency and accountability look like? – Which are the potential conflicts of interest to be addressed and accounted for?

A special appreciation

I would like to appreciate the kind support of MESGO in providing perspectives and information for this contribution, particularly Ms Julie Trošić, MESGO Manager at the Centre de Droit et d’Économie du Sport (CDES) and Mr Didier Primault, Executive Director of the CDES and member of the MESGO Scientific Committee.


MichaelPedersen_Updated2014Michael Pedersen is an internationally recognized expert and leader in good governance, transparency, ethics and integrity. As Founder of M INC., he is a Change Agent, an Integrity Coach and a Street Volunteer. He was the Head of World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative, an international good governance partnership with over 175 multinational companies and their CEOs. He holds three MSc degrees; an MSc in Global Leadership; an MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice; and an MSc in International Relations.

Michael also publishes a leadership series on good governance in sport that is available for free download at:

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