As people can now interact more with social media platforms, how they engage with their favorite football teams is changing as well. Fans no longer need to be seated in the stadium to hear the roar of the crowds, and experience the excitement of their team scoring a winning goal. And this phenomenon was only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, as clubs and authorities were forced to innovate to find ways to engage fans for months where they were not allowed in stadia.

Social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have allowed fans a personal insight into the lives of their favorite players, who in some circumstances have seemed very removed from fans, and their interactions with each other. For example, Manchester United and England player Marcus Rashford has won hearts and minds online for all of his good deeds -- and even brought about a change in UK government in extending free school meals for disadvantaged children into the summer holidays. Indeed, four of the top ten most liked posts ever on Instagram come from footballers, with a total of over 80 million likes. The posts are, respectively, Lionel Messi winning the Copa America, signing for PSG, and leaving Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s post in remembrance of Diego Maradona. That the posts are so recent -- Messi’s posts last month and this month -- shows how digital engagement with football is only growing -- and rapidly.

Domenico Gargano, a recent Football Business Academy graduate working as a Partnership Sales Support Intern at FC Inter Milan, says, “I believe football in the digital age is trying to bring the fans closer to the action, especially younger fans. I think videoconferences and VR could be exploited even more to give fans who are unable to attend matches in the stadium unique experiences, making international fans feel part of the team. Moreover, I think football in general should really pay attention to the younger generations, because they represent the fans of the future, and they are beginning to lose interest in the 90-minute games. It is fundamental to learn to speak their language, use social media appropriately and create contents that are able to catch their attention and emerge among all the different content sources available nowadays.”

As reported in pwc, “The digital transformation – and the technology that fuels it – has enabled fans to interact with their club way beyond the 90 minutes of the actual matches themselves. Indeed, digital ensures that the match never ends.” Fans can now have more access to and are able to interact with their favorite teams and players. The football industry is seeing this as a prime opportunity, and taking advantage of the chance to change up the playbook.

The internet and social media have opened a new means of communication between clubs, fans, sponsors and all those involved in football. Football is a booming industry, and there are many roles a prospective employee could find themselves in. From marketing, to social media management, to working in stadiums, finances, and beyond, there’s a wealth of opportunities available to those who are interested in a career working with their favorite sport.

That’s where The Football Business Academy (FBA) comes in. Understanding the need for preparedness to enter this vastly growing field, The FBA seeks to help students be prepared with the necessary tools, particularly knowledge, experience, and networking, to break into the football industry, which they’ve identified as knowledge, experience, and networking. Students who attend The FBA will leave with a greater understanding of the sport they love, and how to succeed in the football industry.

Online courses

The future of education is online. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools were hearing students’ requests for more online options, and creating courses that could be attended from anywhere in the world. Despite the world beginning to open back up, many students are still preferring to work remotely. The Football Business Academy, since its inception, has offered a pioneering blended approach to learning, combining online classes and in person experiences. Given the current rapid changing pace of the world, their course has an already proven track record of success when it comes to education. This means no matter where you are in the world, you can log in and connect with other students across the globe, as well as work with professors to gain insight into the football industry.

Taught by 13 professors with years of industry experience, its Master in Football Business is broken down into four modules, where students take a deep dive into the most important aspects of working in the football industry, as well as participate in a guaranteed internship experience. In the first module, students learn about the global history of football, macro trends, ethics, and finances of the sport. In the first modules, students learn about the global history of football, laws, ethics, and finances of the sport. In module two, they discover more about womens’ football, sponsorship and partnerships, stadium management, as well as managing football in the digital world. Students will also have the benefit of hearing from some of The FBA’s 50-plus guest lecturers, all of whom “provide perspectives from all the stakeholders of the football industry.”

Hands-on learning

After that, it’s time to head off for a guaranteed internship at one of The FBA's 50 partners, where students get hands-on experience in the field. They work in the industry, making connections with some of the Football Business Academy’s over 2,500 industry contacts. As football is a sport that rakes in over €20 billion ($28 billion) annually, having actual experience is a great way to get one’s foot in the door for this passionate career. After three months in their internships, students are ready to move on to their final module.

“I think the education at The FBA is very oriented towards the job,” Gargano explains. “The lecturers are professionals from the football business who can really give students real-life scenarios and examples to work with. It is very useful to understand what the football industry looks like, with a perspective on all the different sectors and jobs, helping students make up their minds about which job is more suited for them.”

“I would say that the football industry is very competitive, and attending a master in football business is not a guarantee for success. A big effort is required on the students’ part as well, trying to exploit any opportunity, building a meaningful network and active searching are key to beat the competition and land a job in football.”

“I think that the student business project at the end of the course is a perfect example of what the FBA is all about. A real business project with the involvement of a player in the football industry, great for testing students’ abilities and readiness for a job. For my project, together with my team of fellow students, we had to create a new marketing campaign for the new season of the Portland Timbers and Thorns. It was very challenging, but also very rewarding and perfect to use the knowledge acquired during the master in a real life scenario.”

Study in Lisbon

Once the internships are complete, students get to attend two months of in-person study for their fourth module at the Nova School of Business Economics in Lisbon.In addition to getting the chance to connect with their cohort, as well as instructors in person, students will have the opportunity to explore one of Portugal’s hidden gems. Lisbon features amazing restaurants, particularly for those who live for fresh seafood, amazing nightlife, and the gorgeous, expansive scenery. Enjoy a drink at a local bar, or climb one of the seven hills that “are spread across the cityscape like lofty guardians of colour and history.”

After completing the programme, students graduate with a Professional Master in Football Business. They’ll be prepared to enter the workforce, and break into the competitive, ever-evolving football industry. If you’re passionate about football and making a career in the sports industry, kick off your career with The Football Business Academy today!

Article written in association with The Football Business Academy.