sport

UEFA helps women’s football to break stereotypes in the game

Written by Nikos Papanikolaou

Football is by far the most popular sport in Europe. It is more than a game; football is like a religion. Football is not only for men or boys; football is for everyone. And it’s about time to see a significant change to the current landscape for women working in the football industry.

UEFA made a significant first step towards this direction by increasing the women’s football funding by 50%. Women’s football is growing in popularity in the recent years and UEFA has taken the decision to back this development and make it even more extensive.

UEFA’s President Aleksander Čeferin, who is aiming on the increase of and the role of women in football, sad:

“The potential for women’s football is limitless and it is with this in mind UEFA has taken the step to increase the funding available to the national associations to help improve the women’s game across the continent,”

UEFA’s decision came in support of #WhatIf campaign – a social media-based initiative created by the organisation Women in Football, a not for profit organisation which is trying to bring a change in attitudes to professional women working in the industry.

European football’s governing body provides, through the HatTrick programme, each member association with €100,000 per year and this figure will rise to €150,000 annually from 2020. HatTrick is a scheme which has invested more than €1.8bn back into the game since its introduction and has helped UEFA’s members to build national training centres and make investments to develop football at all levels.

However, the reason for UEFA’s decision is not only about equality, but it’s about profit as well. The 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO in the Netherlands saw a global cumulative live audience of 178 million viewers watching the tournament, while a total of 240,045 spectators beat the previous record of 216,888 at the 2013 finals in Sweden.

“We launched #WhatIf nearly five months ago and the support we have received from the football industry and beyond has been immense,”

said Ebru Köksal, chairperson of Women in Football

“We hope UEFA’s support will now encourage and inspire its 55 member associations to come on board and make unique pledges of their own to continue the momentum of change,” Köksal added.
UEFA made the first step on 2017, by launching Together #WePlayStrong, which is aimed at transforming perceptions of women’s football and encouraging girls to take up and continue playing the game.

The campaign’s strategy is to break down all barriers between women and playing football. It encourages them to recognise the strength in themselves and be confident in telling their story. The initiative can show that women who play football are not only healthy, but confident in their strengths, and can help inspire more girls to play the sport.