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Lennart Johansson scholarships boost UEFA education drive

Potential football leaders of tomorrow taking part in UEFA education programmes are getting a crucial helping hand – courtesy of scholarships bearing the name of UEFA's former president and now honorary president Lennart Johansson.

UEFA honorary president Lennart Johansson was at UEFA's helm for 17 years
UEFA honorary president Lennart Johansson was at UEFA's helm for 17 years ©UEFA

Scholarships bearing the name of former UEFA President Lennart Johansson are developing the talents of people with the potential to play a leadership role in football in the future.

The Lennart Johansson Scholarships for Football Leaders are named after the renowned Swedish football leader and administrator, who led European football’s governing body from 1990 to 2007 before becoming UEFA honorary President.

Scholarships are available to participants in two UEFA education programmes: The Executive Master in Sport Governance (MESGO) and the UEFA Executive Master for International Players (MIP).

MESGO is an exclusive programme for sports sector professionals wishing to strengthen their strategic thinking in the evolving world of global sports governance, while the MIP is a tailor-made programme aiming to give former players the tools to lay the foundations for successful football administration and management careers when they hang up their boots.

MESGO fifth edition participants
MESGO fifth edition participants©UEFA

Eleven participants in the fifth edition of MESGO – from UEFA member associations, football clubs and European institutions – are being supported in their studies by Lennart Johansson scholarships, and will be attending this month’s second session of the fifth edition in western Switzerland. Studies at the session will focus on the governance of sports organisations.

UEFA’s educational programmes are designed to foster participant’s personal development by equipping them with knowledge and tools that, in the long term, will help the sustainable development of European football.

The Lennart Johansson scholarships also aim to broaden the diversity of those who take part in UEFA’s education programmes – especially in terms of gender, origin, cultural background and area of expertise – and promote democratic values.

The management board for the scholarships comprises one representative each from the Lennart Johansson Foundation and Centre de Droit et d’Economie du Sport (CDES) - the lead academic partner delivering both the MESGO and MIP programmes – and three representatives of UEFA or UEFA member associations.

Lennart Johansson is the board’s honorary president, and UEFA handles the administration of both the board and the scholarships. An annual budget covers the board’s operating costs and the scholarships themselves,

To apply for a scholarship, candidates must have applied for a place on the MESGO or MIP programmes and fulfil the admission criteria. MESGO candidates must, among others, have a minimum five years’ experience in a relevant field and at managerial level.

Only candidates from sports organisations connected to football - national associations, clubs, leagues, players’ unions or any other UEFA stakeholders – can apply for scholarships, although scholarships may be awarded to candidates involved in another type of organisation if the candidature has a particular relevance to the programme.

MIP scholarship candidates must include on their CV a career in football as a player, coach or referee at international level, as well as at least one selection in the senior national team, or several seasons as a player for a European top-division club with at least one appearance in a UEFA senior club competition.

The MIP hopefuls can also have been the main coach of a senior national team, or have spent several seasons as a coach for a European top-division club with at least one game in a UEFA senior club competition. Referees are not left out either. Any referee with at least one game as a referee in a UEFA senior club or national team competition under his/her belt can apply for a MIP place.

The board examines and decides upon all scholarship applications from MESGO candidates, considering criteria such as the candidate’s ability to play a leadership role in the future, and the position of the candidate within an organisation. For MIP candidates, their current professional activity and their profile are key application factors.

The creation of the scholarship honours Lennart Johansson’s lasting contribution to the development of European football, and the promotion of good governance in football organisations.

The former UEFA President, now 89, who was at European football’s helm at a time of a massive overall development of the game, including the launch of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA’s evolution into a modern business organisation, is proud that the scholarships bear his name.

“The launch of the Lennart Johansson scholarships gives me tremendous pleasure,” he said. “Education and support to football leaders is of utmost importance for the future of football.”

“Personally,” he added, “I wish to emphasise the significance that education of leaders has for safeguarding core values of democracy and fair play. UEFA’s support in this regard, and the signal this sends, cannot be overestimated.”

The Lennart Johansson Scholarships are fulfilling their educational purpose. Consequently, students with scholarships have also lauded the chance to further their skills and careers:

“MESGO is currently the most complete and effective accelerator for the sports leaders of the future. Such privilege implies travelling to key markets to attend sessions and gain experience first-hand - which would not be possible without the support from the Lennart Johansson scholarship.” - Nuno Moura (chief marketing & revenue officer, Portuguese Football Federation)

“Without the scholarship I would not have been able to attend the MESGO V Programme. The first [session] has cemented with certainty in my mind just how beneficial this programme will be to me in my current position.” - Rea Walshe (corporate affairs and licensing director (Football Association of Ireland)