Chris Curulli is just 23 and has already attended and reported on two FIFA World Cups – and it all happened in the space of 12 months.
The football writer, commentator and digital content editor from Sydney, Australia, travelled to Qatar in November 2022 to cover the Aussie men’s Socceroos’ team.
Chris on the press bench at the FIFA Women's World Cup
Then in summer this year, working for Football Australia, he witnessed an explosion of interest in the women’s game, when Australia’s Matildas hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.
Chris is currently part of the FIFA Master degree course at Âé¶¹ÆµµÀ Leicester (DMU), to accrue the skills that will help him focus on what comes next in his so far brief, but jam-packed, career.
It’s fair to say he is still pinching himself after what happened to him in such a short time.
“I went to cover the finals in Qatar and we won two games, got out of the group and pushed eventual winners Argentina all the way in the last 16 (Argentina won 2-1).
“It was a bit surreal”, Chris says. “I remember interviewing (Australian player) Jason Cummings and then Kylian Mbappe (top French striker) walks around the corner. We both just looked at each other and I was thinking ‘what in the world just happened?’.
“I’d commentated on just as many women’s games as men’s, and had followed and covered the Matildas for some time. But the FIFA Women’s World Cup was something really special, working for Football Australia.”
Outside one of the World Cup stadiums
“It felt like a moment not only for Australian sporting history but history on any level. It was the women’s football that made that impact.
“This was football doing something that no other sport can do. To see it capture the general public and be there to see it happening first hand… it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
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“I ended up covering 40 world cup games in less than a year. It was really, really special and I really felt I was part of something huge.”
The FIFA Master is regarded as one of the world’s best sports management courses.
Earlier this year, it was named by Sports Business International as Europe’s top ranked postgraduate sports management course for a record 11th time.
Chris interviews LCFC's Aussie international Harry Souttar at the Men's World Cup
The one-year course, which is co-ordinated by the Centre International d’Etude du Sport (CIES) and supported by football’s world governing body FIFA, involves students dedicating a term of study at DMU’s International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC) before also spending a term at both the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy, and Switzerland’s University of Neuchâtel.
Chris, a Liverpool fan, started his journalism career in high school.
“I realised I was not going to make it as an athlete,” he explains.
“So, I thought ‘how else can I make it?’. Writing always came naturally to me so it seemed obvious that I should be a sports journalist.
“The formative time for me was joining Twitter. I was a big Liverpool fan and I built up a large following with my comments on watching Liverpool in Sydney at 1am or 3am in the morning.
“The year after that I started writing for a Liverpool fan site. I shared my articles around and, before I knew it, I was writing for an Australian football blog.
Chris at the Socceroos' training ground for the World Cup
“I picked up work experience for a local club doing the match day social media. There was an established journalist who finished work that season and I picked up their job.
“I was still at high school and my first paid reporter gig was in year 11, before I started my exams.
“As soon as I finished high school I started freelancing, covering local and national matches. Football was always the one for me.”
Chris added: “The course is something I have always wanted to do. I had seen the 20th edition of the course (Chris is on the 24th edition) and there were three Australians studying on that.
“I spoke to them and I always saw myself being on the course although I thought it might come a bit later. But having done the dream job at such a young age, I think the time is right to expand my horizons and take a wider global view of sport. It’s exciting being on the course.”
Posted on Friday 24th November 2023