ESSCA School of Management (Angers, France) 


Albrecht Sonntag
FREE Coordinator and Director of the ESSCA EU-Asia Institute


Professor Albrecht Sonntag, Director of the Centre for European Integration at ESSCA School of Management, is FREE’s project coordinator. After completing his university degrees in literature, linguistics and educational sciences in Germany, he moved to France, where he has been living now for twenty-one years. Albrecht holds a PhD in sociology with the ‘Doctor Communitatis Europae’ label from the Université de Nantes. His recent research work has focused on issues of identity construction such as collective memory, political symbolism and political emotions. He is the author of a book on the impact of football in contemporary identity construction processes, Les identités du football européen, which was awarded the prize for the best football book 2008 by the French Union of Professional Football Clubs. Over the last fifteen years he has published numerous scholarly articles and book chapters on football, as well as a series of vulgarisation pieces for the press. He also has been regularly consulted as expert by print and audiovisual media.



« Football is the single most underestimated factor of international socialisation. Its contribution to how we see, describe and narrate ourselves and ‘The Others’ in an ever smaller world is much more important than the social sciences have traditionally recognised. It’s the double opportunity of coming to a new and better understanding of football and of leading my own little dream-team of dedicated researchers on the way that decided me to get the FREE ball rolling. »


Dàvid Ranc
FREE Project Manager
EU-Asia Institute


Dr Dàvid Ranc is Assistant Professor in European Studies at ESSCA’s Department of International Relations and project manager for FREE. Dàvid holds a PhD in International Studies from the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall). His doctoral thesis has been published by Manchester University Press under the title Foreign players and football supporters. Dàvid has also published a number of book chapters and academic articles. His work focuses on the ways in which football supporters identify (or not) with the club that they support, and on the troubled relationship between football and the press.

Within the FREE project, Dàvid will be in charge of the day-to-day management of the project, but also take part as researcher in several of the project’s research strands.







« Europe seems to be dying a slow death because academics and technocrats have lost sight of how it makes sense to ordinary citizens of the Union. The FREE project attracted me because I want to look at what Europe means in people’s everyday life. »


Aline Brisset

Project Officer

Centre for European Integration


Aline BRISSET has been coordinating several projects within the Centre for European Integration (now the EU-Asia Institute) at ESSCA School of Management since 2009 and is Project Officer for FREE.

Aline holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the Université de Rennes II. Her linguistic training and her extensive professional experience gathered in several multi-national companies in the United Kingdom and Germany, but also as a teacher in South-West China, has given her the opportunity to challenge her own perception of other cultures.

« Euro2004 was an exhilarating experience during my stay in China: each evening from 11.30pm a good dozen students hurried to my flat with baskets full of fresh watermelons, mangoes, papayas, litchies etc. to last us through a night of successive football matches. This made me realise two important things: football crosses all borders / I am a European. »

ESSCA School of Management 


ESSCA School of Management

Angers, France


A private and independent not-for-profit organisation, ESSCA (Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Commerciales d’Angers) is one of France’s best-known schools of business and management. It was founded in 1909 in the prestigious tradition of the ‘Grandes Ecoles’. With over 2 400 students and four different campuses on two continents (Paris, Angers, Budapest, Shanghai), ESSCA is a resolutely international institution, open to the world and committed to providing its students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a global economy. In 2006, in an innovative move for a business school, ESSCA established a Centre for European Integration, which has since developed a growing reputation in the field of European Studies. In September 2009, the centre organised the annual research conference of UACES (University Association for Contemporary European Studies), an event attended by over 300 researchers from around the world. In 2014, the Centre for European Integration became the EU-Asia Institute.