Santiago Liste Cortizo, Legal adviser at the Spanish Football Player Associations (AFE) and Master in Sports Law, tell us about how his career as a sports lawyer began, and how his time in the Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea was.
AFE is an association that services the football player collective and that encourages the union between them, maintains the regular development of their sports career and career progression, by guaranteeing labour, economic, educational and social rights, for now and for the future, and by teaching their sports values to the association affiliates as well as wider society.
The most common problems faced by football players during their careers are “the vulnerability of the labour rights (unpaid salaries, contract stability…) and this is why there is a need for professional and sincere legal advice, in order for them to make educated decisions during their career, as without this advice they could face serious legal damage”.
In Santiago’s own words, at the AFE “We always recommend to all members to practice what we call preventive law, before they jump into any contracts with intermediaries etc. We want members to get in touch with us about questions and concerns in order to protect their interests. The AFE is the only association in Spain that works for football players with the only aim of supporting them through their professional path with total transparency and confidentiality, looking for solid ways to help them and solve the problems that they might encounter in their career”.
His education as a professional specialising in the sports industry has started with a lot of success. “As a lawyer and a football fan, I can see a clear increase in the importance of Sports Law, and that the path to follow is to professionalize the members of all the existing sports structures, organizations and committees. Being able to access these type of roles is only achieved by providing an adequate education, something that I reached thanks to the Real Madrid Graduate School – Universidad Europea.
I have great memories from the school, as it has been “my key to get into the football world, and more precisely, into Sports Law. Furthermore, the relationship I forged with the Directors of the Master in Sports law as well as with other departments of the school, has been amazing, and I’m sure that this great treatment of the students has a lot to do with the success of the programme”.
“What I liked the most is the high quality of the professors, as the chair of professors that composed the master are real professionals from the sports sector. It might sound a bit like a cliche, but you need to be there to be able to tell that this is true and to realize that a lot of the people who are teaching you have really important roles and a lot of decision making power in some of the most prestigious organisations in the sports world”.
His time at the school has given him “a high-quality education and learning about which professional profiles are more in demand in the sports world, in order to be able to find a position in it. This has been a total success for me as I’ve managed to get the tools and contacts that I was looking for to be able to develop my career around something that I like. I am confident that it has been thanks to my time at the school as well as the work done by them, that today I can say that I work at the Spanish Football Player Associations, where I feel completely engaged, and doing something (legal advice) that I’m passionate about”.
The determining aspects that he has found in this Master in Sports Law are “a great, high-quality chair of professors who have always been accessible and willing to talk to us, with a very-complete education programme that has continuously adapt to the current sports landscape. Additionally, I really liked how international the programme was. In my class, there were people from Mexico, Italy, Colombia, Slovenia, Portugal, Panama and Ecuador, and the facilities from the Alcobendas campus are incredible. They really raise the bar.”
The tip that he was given and never forgot is “if there’s effort, consistency and attitude, the opportunities will arrive sooner or later. In the meantime, you have to persevere without giving up and get the right education so you’re ready when the opportunities arrive”.
The tip that he’ll give the students that are currently studying: “I’d tell them to face the year with a lot of energy, without keeping inside their hard work. They have to make the most of the experience as it will open an ocean of opportunities”.
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