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Player welfare a key focus for UEFA Football Board

Player welfare a key focus for UEFA Football Board

The UEFA Football Board met at the House of European Football in Nyon on Monday to engage in constructive discussions on a variety of topics related to women’s football, ranging from strategy and refereeing to the match calendar, competitions and player welfare.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation about UEFA’s women’s football activities and initiatives highlighted by attendance records broken across the continent by clubs and national teams as well as the increased investments made in Europe over the past seasons.

The Board then discussed the post-24 UEFA Women’s Football Strategy where it was recommended to increase initiatives encouraging greater representation in leadership positions within football, new competition opportunities, player protection, improved academy structures as well as increased support for small and medium-sized national associations.

The Board also discussed refereeing matters such as VAR, handball offences, player and coach behaviour and the new UEFA “Be a Referee!” campaign followed by competitions and match calendar matters. The Board conveyed the need for greater consideration of players needs and open dialogue on the match calendar, competition scheduling and calculation of stoppage time, which adds additional burden to an already heavy workload on the players. The Board also expressed their appreciation and satisfaction with the new UEFA women’s national team competition system and provided feedback on the current state and the evolution of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

The meeting concluded with medical discussions focused on the effects of the menstrual cycle on player performance and recovery, head injury prevention and education as well as on anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention and treatment.

The meeting was attended by Verónica BoqueteMarissa CallaghanKaren CarneyJovana DamnjanovićJonas EidevallMagdalena ErikssonLaura GeorgesGemma GraingerAda HegerbergPernille HarderJosephine HenningEugénie Le SommerCarolina MoraceFrancisco NetoAlexia PutellasLotta SchelinViktoria SchnaderbeckTessa Wullaert and Leah Williamson.

Nadine Kessler, UEFA Managing Director of Women’s Football, said: “Bringing together some of the greats of our game to discuss the successes, challenges and opportunities facing our sport was a necessary step. We listened to them carefully. And I truly loved the open spirit and constructive debate. Their ideas, without any doubt, will lead to an even better European football landscape. I want to thank them all for their time."

Verónica Boquete said: “This is a group with expertise, they really know our competitions, our problems, our weaknesses and our strengths so it’s great to be able to share in that. We want to help be part of the improvement of the system and the organisation and bring new ideas. I already think UEFA is doing a great job but if I can do something to help that is great.”

Karen Carney said: “Everything is moving really fast but we have to build the sport on a solid foundation. Today has been getting people together to understand that there are so many countries and everyone is at different parts in their evolution of women’s football, so to understand and hear everyone’s side is really important because we all want the same thing.”

FIFPRO Statement: UEFA decision on additional stoppage time

FIFPRO Statement: UEFA decision on additional stoppage time

FIFPRO Europe, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA, England) and the Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionnels (UNFP, France) welcome UEFA’s decision not to apply the new guidelines around additional stoppage time to European competitions.

This decision shows UEFA have listened to the players and their unions.

"This is an excellent player-centric decision which will make a difference for footballers across Europe," said FIFPRO Europe President and UNFP Vice-President David Terrier. "The fruitful cooperation with UEFA underlines our shared commitment to enhancing player welfare.

This collaborative approach fills us with confidence for the future relationship between UEFA, professional players, and their respective unions.”

PFA CEO and FIFPRO board member Maheta Molango said: “Player workload is the number one issue when I speak to members at clubs who will be competing for club and country. It is totally unsustainable. It’s clear they are having to make really difficult decisions about how to protect their own health and fitness

The comments from Zvonimir Boban [UEFA’s Chief of Football] show that he gets it. From his own experience he understands the player perspective and the fact that this is ultimately a player wellbeing issue. I will keep saying it – we can’t keep pushing the players until they break.”

GNK Dinamo to play UEFA club competition matches without away fans during 2023/24 season

GNK Dinamo to play UEFA club competition matches without away fans during 2023/24 season

Following the extremely serious incidents which occurred ahead of the postponed UEFA Champions League third qualifying round match between AEK Athens and GNK Dinamo Zagreb initially scheduled for 9 August 2023, in Athens, and which resulted in the death of a Greek national, UEFA has decided that fans of GNK Dinamo will not be allowed to attend any away matches as a minimum for the remainder of the 2023/24 season of UEFA club competitions.

Following an assessment made by UEFA, all matches involving visiting GNK Dinamo supporters are considered to be high risk and this was unfortunately confirmed by the extreme gravity of incidents due to the presence in Athens of GNK Dinamo supporters, in spite of the decision not to provide them with tickets for the match in question. It was also highlighted in the report containing information on the incidents provided by the Greek authorities to UEFA.

GNK Dinamo are furthermore requested, in conjunction with the relevant political, public security and football authorities in Croatia, to devise and implement a strategy to eradicate football related violence associated with their club. UEFA expects to receive a report in due course from the club, with detail of the action plan drawn up to address this significant problem.

While GNK Dinamo and their respective opponents must do their utmost to prevent GNK Dinamo supporters from travelling, visiting teams travelling to Croatia may continue to receive their full allocation of tickets and GNK Dinamo and the relevant public authorities must take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of visiting supporters.

UEFA will inform directly the competent authorities of the host countries/cities of this measure.

UEFA and ECA sign landmark agreement to bolster European football's future

UEFA and ECA sign landmark agreement to bolster European football's future

UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) have today signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that extends their cooperation until 2030. Building on a relationship which now spans over fifteen years, the new MoU will elevate their partnership to bolster long-term stability and sustainable growth in European club football.

At the heart of this agreement lies a full commitment to strengthen the core principles of the European football pyramid championed by fans across Europe. This includes the central role of UEFA as the European governing body and the open system of promotion and relegation that ultimately culminates in qualification for an open model of European competitions.

The revamped agreement aligns the cooperative efforts of both organisations with the evolving landscape of the men's and women’s international match calendar and the forthcoming structural changes to men's UEFA club competitions, effective from the 2024/25 season that will bring more opportunities for more clubs, but also for players and supporters alike, while keeping the pyramid open and democratic.

A central element of this agreement is the shared priority to nurture European club football at every level. This will manifest through a new revenue distribution model for the 2024-2027 cycle, boasting an unprecedented increase of solidarity payments that will benefit clubs in domestic league competitions.

The share reserved in the new cycle to clubs not participating in the league phase of UEFA competitions will increase to a total of 10%: besides the 3% reserved for clubs eliminated in the qualifying rounds, the share for clubs which have not participated at all will grow to 7%, (up from the current 4%), securing €440m per season – being €1.32bn over the cycle – in what is the sole redistribution scheme for clubs at a pan-European level. The new distribution system for participating clubs will give greater focus to participation (from 25% to 27,5% will be shared equally) and performance (from 30% to 37,5%), while the existing two pillars of market pool and coefficient will be merged and reduced (from 45% to 35%). Full details of the new system will be disclosed as soon as the technical work has concluded.

The MoU also captures the evolution of UEFA Club Competitions SA – the joint venture between UEFA and the ECA – to further drive the commercial development of UEFA’s club competitions.

The new agreement also mirrors the remarkable strides taken in the development of women’s football. UEFA and the ECA are united in their drive to enhance competitions, fostering the growth of the next generation of talented female players, and establishing the bedrock for a resilient and sustainable women's football ecosystem and business model.

Finally, the renewed MoU continues to prioritise critical issues such as environmental, social and corporate governance as well as financial sustainability to secure the overall well-being of European football.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: "This new MoU builds upon the solid foundation of cooperation between UEFA and the ECA to enhance the open and values-based European football pyramid celebrated by fans worldwide. It will bring continuity, stability and healthy growth that will benefit every corner of Europe. I would like to thank the ECA Executive Board and its Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi for their efforts in making this renewed agreement become a reality. Our cooperation will strengthen European football, and we look forward to it resulting in the further development and success of the game."

ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi said: “This renewed Memorandum of Understanding between ECA and UEFA until 2030 is fantastic news for all European clubs, and for everyone concerned with the stability and prosperity of European club football. The MoU formalises agreements between UEFA and ECA on a wide range of governance, representation, regulatory, financial and sporting matters and establishes solid foundations for the continued development of European club football.

As the ECA family continues to rapidly multiply in size, representing clubs of all sizes in all corners of Europe, we very much look forward to our continued constructive, collaborative and trusted relationship with UEFA, ECA’s most important partner.

This latest MoU reaffirms UEFA's steadfast commitment to democratic governance, building upon its earlier decision to incorporate the perspectives of players (via FIFPRO Europe) and fans (via Football Supporters Europe) alongside those of leagues and clubs in its decision-making process. This approach is aimed at nurturing an even more inclusive, resilient, and transparent governance framework for European football.

ECA Ukraine Relief Fund Has Delivered On Its Last Round Of Projects

ECA Ukraine Relief Fund Has Delivered On Its Last Round Of Projects

After 15 months making a difference to the lives of refugees across Europe, ECA’s €1million Ukraine Relief Fund has delivered on its last round of projects. The ground-breaking fund was announced at the General Assembly in March 2022, by ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, who said the seven-figure sum would be available to support clubs’ efforts in assisting the Ukrainian refugees, while many also offered to find a safe place for Ukrainian young football players.

ECA Chairman told clubs gathered in Vienna that football could be a positive social force to help the Ukrainian people.

Since then, 30 projects have benefited from the fund, which has been managed through an ECA Relief Committee chaired by ECA Vice-Chairman Dariusz Mioduski.

The third and final round of projects were:

  • FC Shakhtar Donetsk
  • FC Vast (Football Club Mykolaiv)
  • FSC Mariupol
  • MFC Metalurg
  • Skoruk FC

Together this means a total of 24 clubs have been part of the innovative scheme, with clubs initially applying for donations of between €25,000 and €50,000. The aim has been to provide real and effective humanitarian and emergency actions to provide support and opportunities for the integration and development of refugees affected by the war.

ECA partnered with the UEFA Foundation for Children in order to implement this humanitarian project, in advance of establishing a dedicated ECA Foundation which is part of the Association’s future plans.

During the initial two rounds of the project, the ECA Ukraine Relief Fund demonstrated its dedication to creating tangible positive change in the lives of Ukrainian refugees. Through the support of the participating member clubs, a diverse range of projects were delivered, including in the four main areas highlighted below:

  • Emergency Humanitarian Assistance: The fund facilitated the distribution of essential supplies, such as food, clean water, clothing, and medical aid, to affected communities. These efforts significantly contributed to easing immediate difficulties.
  • Education and Skill Development: Recognising the significance of education in times of crisis, the fund supported initiatives that provided access to quality education and training for refugee children. These educational programmes aimed to empower individuals with knowledge and skills for a brighter future.
  • Shelter and Infrastructure: The fund played an active role in the construction and renovation of shelters to provide safe living environments for displaced families.
  • Psychosocial Support: Addressing the emotional and psychological impact of displacement, the fund supported therapy services, fostering emotional well-being among those affected.

Commenting on the allocation of the remaining funds to the clubs, Dariusz Mioduski, ECA Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the ECA Relief Committee, said:

“At ECA we are all engaged in assisting clubs and allowing them to continue their excellent work in supporting Ukrainian children and families displaced by this tragic war, started by the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The allocation of the remaining funds to the last five projects is the right moment for me to thank once again all the clubs and individuals involved for their dedication and hard work. In total thirty projects have benefitted from the ECA Ukraine Relief Fund and their work will continue.

“I would also like to thank my colleagues on the ECA Relief Committee for their time and support in delivering this important work. Thanks to their efforts we have been able to contribute and make a difference to those families and individuals whose lives have been so tragically affected by this conflict, which unfortunately is ongoing.”

The list of all the approved projects, including the ones from the third round, are:

  • AC Sparta Praha
  • AS Trencin
  • Athletic Club
  • Celtic FC
  • FC Chikhura Sachkhere
  • FC Shakhtar Donetsk
  • FC Slovan Liberec
  • FC Vast (Football Club Mykolaiv)
  • FC Veres Rivne
  • FC Zimbru
  • FSC Mariupol
  • GNK Dinamo Zagreb
  • Heart of Midlothian FC
  • Legia Warszawa
  • Maccabi Haifa F.C
  • MFC Metalurg
  • Nõmme Kalju FC
  • SJK Seinäjoki
  • SK Slavia Praha
  • SK Slovan Bratislava
  • Skoruk FC
  • Sporting Clube de Portugal
  • Trabzonspor AS
  • Wisla Kraków