Read about why the UEFA HatTrick programme, which gives important sporting and infrastructure assistance to UEFA's member associations, is proving to be a crucial catalyst in the growth of European football.
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UEFA’s HatTrick programme is now one of the largest solidarity and development initiatives ever to be established by a sports body.
Since its launch in 2004, this invaluable programme has supported the UEFA member associations in developing themselves and their football infrastructure – helping to build essential pitches, stadiums, training centres and headquarter offices across the European continent.
The UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin, has stressed UEFA’s determination to give Europe’s football associations unfailing assistance, financially and otherwise, and he is following that mission to the letter.
“Solidarity is a value that has to be engrained in UEFA’s DNA,” he told the member associations at the last Congress in April. “UEFA is not here to accumulate wealth while you struggle to develop football in the furthest reaches of your territories.”
What is HatTrick?
The HatTrick programme began ahead of UEFA EURO 2004. The basic principle was to reinvest revenue from the European Championship back into the growth and development of everyday football. Money isn’t everything, and so HatTrick was founded on three core pillars that remain the same today - financial assistance, knowledge-sharing and education.
As the funding comes directly from the UEFA EURO, HatTrick runs in four-year cycles, and the UEFA Executive Committee has increased the amount made available on the back of each tournament. These are the past numbers:
• HatTrick I (2004-08): €301.6m
• HatTrick II (2008-12): €408.1m
• HatTrick III (2012-16): €498.2m
Following UEFA EURO 2016, the funding is higher than ever, and HatTrick IV will make available up to €610.5m over the four years.
UEFA first vice-president Karl-Erik Nilsson took over at the helm of the HatTrick Committee last July, and he fully appreciates how much the programme means to football.
“The UEFA HatTrick programme,” he says, “is an outstanding initiative which has been – and continues to be – a great support for all the UEFA member associations in their efforts to develop their respective operations and projects.”
HatTrick is aware of the need to set standards and encourage growth in a way that is inclusive and comprehensive. For example, under the current cycle until 2020, each association is provided with up to €1.9m in annual incentive payments. This funding exists solely to help with the following:
• To implement the UEFA club licensing system;
• To introduce good governance and integrity projects;
• To introduce social responsibility programmes;
• To continue grassroots, elite youth player and women’s football development;
• To continue technical development for coaches and referees.
These are all key factors for overall modern development, but can still fall victim to other, bigger, priorities that all football associations face to stay current.
Another €3.5m per association is earmarked for development projects. The projects are approved by the UEFA HatTrick Committee and, together with the UEFA administration, they are tracked and consulted upon from start to finish. HatTrick also guarantees annual solidarity funding enabling associations to participate in UEFA youth, women’s and amateur competitions ─ meaning that as many male and female players as possible have the opportunity to perform on a major international stage.
Imagine drawing upon the long-term experience that already thrives across 55 member associations, and combining that powerful resource with a widespread mix of football experts all under the auspices of UEFA, the European hub of football.
This is exactly what HatTrick does under its knowledge-sharing pillar. Over the years, HatTrick has run many workshops and seminars on a wide range of football areas including marketing, sponsorship, communications, law, crisis management and event operations.
The essence of this HatTrick pillar is sharing to pool resources. A bigger association coaches a smaller association, and vice-versa. Like any family, we must listen carefully to each other and identify the gold nuggets of experience that create the imperative best practices that many of us rely upon today.
Education is the third pillar of HatTrick, and it focuses on personal development ─ because pinpointing the workforce of tomorrow and fine-tuning their skillset is a big part of how football must plan for its future.
A series of UEFA educational initiatives provides national association staff, football stakeholders, legal experts and, more recently, former elite footballers with dedicated training and guidance to develop and enhance their management skills.
The programmes on offer include the Executive Master in Sport Governance programme (MESGO), the UEFA Certificate in Football Management (UEFA CFM), the UEFA Football Law Programme (UEFA FLP), the UEFA Executive Master for International Players (UEFA MIP) and the UEFA Women in Football Leadership Programme (UEFA WFLP).
There is no doubt that HatTrick has made a genuine difference. Since 2004, more than 600 projects have been approved and the results and achievements are visible everywhere. These are just some examples of an ever-growing list:
• HatTrick backing has contributed to the recent construction and opening of new national centres and FA HQs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Portugal and Slovenia.
• More than 3,000 mini-pitches have been installed across Europe ─ strengthening grassroots football and youth development ─ through partnerships established between HatTrick, national associations, municipalities and local authorities.
• Funding for a girls’ academy in Austria to nurture teenage players has borne excellent fruit, with the country’s national women’s squad – featuring a number of academy graduates – qualifying for their first Women’s EURO finals this summer and promptly reaching the semi-finals.
• Artificial pitches and indoor facilities built in Finland ensure that football can be played throughout the year.
• In Belarus, the ‘Internet-TV’ service allows fans to watch domestic league games live and for free on the national association's website.
• San Marino proudly awaits a new stadium and futsal arena, and Kosovo is looking forward to the renovation of its national stadium.
“The impact of this programme across the continent is significant,” Karl-Erik Nilsson concludes, ”and it ultimately means that European football as a whole is strengthened.”