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14th International Football Arena – informative and interactive

The 14th edition of the International Football Arena conference (IFA-Zurich) was held on Monday/Tuesday, November 12/13 at The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. And as the IFA tagline says 'Football's global players' and there you meet, inte...

The 14th edition of the International Football Arena conference (IFA-Zurich) was held on Monday/Tuesday, November 12/13 at The Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. The IFA tagline says ‘Football’s global players’ and there you meet, interact and listen to talks and sessions which there mostly informative and the networking interactive. I was in Zurich in my football consultancy role, but the journalist in me does come through once in a while like now as I write about this year’s International Football Arena.

The IFA Zurich in 2012 opened with IFA Founder and Chairman Marcel Schmid along with moderator Darren Tulett welcoming the delegates and taling about his visit around the world ( India mentioned ) and the highlights of those. The first session of the day saw the presentation of the CIES Study: Latest Market trends regarding Player’s Migration between West and East by its head Dr. Raffaele Poli.

After the lunch break, it was the time for the words of wisdom of FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, who did not speak about football but rather the desire to achieve success and fight for his/her dreams.

The afternoon sessions started with a presentation from Markus Egger about how the Aspire Academy finds and forms talent from Qatar; which was followed by a discussion round on ‘What is the Best System to create National Team Players’ which included a very interesting presentation from Maarten Fontein, Chairman Youth Working Group at the European Club Association besides being responsible for the International Affairs at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. The discussion also included Ivan Bravo and Markus Egger from Aspire Academy; Peter Knäbel, Technical Director of the Swiss FA and Ralf Rangnick, Director of Sports at Red Bull Salzburg & RB Leipzig.

After a tea break, it was the time to hear about the ‘Red Bull-Project’ from Ralf Rangnick, whose presentation included what Red Bull has done in football since getting involved in 2005 with their three clubs (Salzburg, New York, Leipzig) and two Academies (Ghana, Brazil); and what his vision is for Salzburg and Leipzig. A very impressive presentation and some more in the days to come.

Before the day ended in the conference room and we shifted to the gala dinner, it was about ‘How Chelsea FC and Sauber Formula 1 are building a creative partnership’ in which Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber F1 Team Principal and Chelsea CEO Ron Gourley spoke about what the two sides can gain from such a partnership.

On day two, there were two sessions titled ‘What our Football could learn from American Football’ in which American Football’s Alistair Kirkwood, the Managing Director of NFL UK, spoke about the NFL, its strengths which could also help football to grow. The final session was ‘Shitstorms? The Power of Fans in the Age of Social Media’ in which a discussion was held with Walter de Gregorio, FIFA Director Communication & Public Affairs; Carsten Cramer, Director Sales, Marketing & Business Development, Borussia Dortmund; former Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and Prof. Dr. Klaus Goldhammer, MD Goldhammer GmbH. From the discussion it became clear that those who use social media rarely and have still not grasped its growing relevance in today’s world will be left behind.

Thereafter, the IFA Zurich 2012 ended after one-and-a-half days of sessions and networking.

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