Marco Villiger - Director of Legal Affairs, FIFA Share PDF Print E-mail

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By Martin Laurence :

Marco Villiger is a graduate of the University of Zurich (Zurich Universitat). After admission to the bar of the Attorney’s Commission in 2003, Mr Villiger was appointed as Head of Disciplinary at soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, a year later. Alongside this position, Villiger was announced as the Director of the Legal Affairs Division at the organisation in January 2007.

When did you first decide you wanted to work in football?

As a boy I wanted to become a professional player, but was not talented enough. I am very happy that I can work in football off the pitch now.

FIFA is an organisation regularly in the media. How does that affect your work?

FIFA is responsible for, and active in so many areas: all international transfers of players, release of players, protection of minors, fighting against doping, fighting against irregular betting and much more. These areas are of high interest to the media and therefore it is normal to be in the spotlight. It is good to see your daily work in the media.

Do you see yourself first and foremost as a lawyer or a member of the sports industry?

First, I see myself as the General Counsel of FIFA, since this is my job. This includes many different roles such as manager, lawyer, member of the sport industry and various others. But my main work is still in the legal field of course.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

Football is a very fast sport, and so is the business around it. As in a football match, you never know what happens next. This needs good anticipation skills and flexibility.

Do you ever have a typical day, or is every day very different?

No, every day is different, which is most probably the best thing in my job. There is never a dull moment.

One of the biggest stories concerning FIFA last summer was ambush marketing at the World Cup. How important is it for rights holders to protect their sponsors? What is the most effective way of doing this?

For FIFA and its commercial partners, the fight against ambush marketing is very important. The most effective way is to raise awareness and explain why this is so important. Further, it is important to work closely with the local authorities at an early stage. This concept proved to be very effective at the last FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

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