The year 2009 was another hectic and memorable period for UEFA on and off the field as the organisation remained true to its role as the parent body of European football.
Financial Fair Play
In September, a major step was taken with the UEFA Executive Committee's approval of a concept to help improve the long-term health of the European game – Financial Fair Play. A number of measures are to be implemented. For example, clubs will be obliged to balance their books or break even, and not repeatedly spend more than they earn.
Club Financial Control Panel
The measures will be put into action over a three-year period, and are designed to stimulate long-term investment (youth development and upgrading of sporting facilities) over short-term speculative spending. An independent Club Financial Control Panel has been set up, chaired by former Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, in which experts will conduct financial audits to ensure that the UEFA club licensing system is applied correctly. (Click here for details.)
Safeguarding football's essential values
UEFA is hard at work safeguarding football's essential values against a series of dangers which could endanger the game's well-being. In a keynote speech to the European parliament in February, UEFA President Michel Platini insisted that football should not be treated as an economic activity, and that sport's specific nature should be recognised. The UEFA President called, among other things, for a halt to the trafficking of young footballers, with a ban on the international transfer of players under the age of 18. (Click here for details.)
The fight against match-fixing and corruption remained high on UEFA's agenda, and became even more intense in November, when German authorities confirmed that a number of individuals had been arrested by German police in connection with match-fixing and corruption allegations concerning around 200 games. UEFA confirmed that it had been assisting the German authorities with their investigation, and that it was further investigating several fixtures in the European club competitions. (Click here and here for details.)
2012 preparations gather speed
Preparations for UEFA EURO 2012™ in Poland and Ukraine are now at full speed after important decisions taken by the Executive Committee this year. In Bucharest in May, the committee confirmed the appointment of four venues in Poland – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw. In December in Funchal, Madeira, the committee confirmed Ukrainian capital Kyiv as the venue for the UEFA EURO 2012™ final, and confirmed Donetsk and Lviv and appointed Kharkiv as Ukraine's host cities for group games in the tournament.
Five match officials
The refereeing experiment involving five match officials was extended to European club competition level at the start of the 2009/10 season. The new UEFA Europa League was the setting for the continued experiment. In addition to the match referee and two assistant referees on the touchline, two additional assistants are placed behind the goal line, with the mission of focusing on incidents that happen in the penalty area such as fouls or misconduct. The experiment is gleaning considerable positive feedback. (Click here for details.)
Anti-racism and anti-doping
UEFA is determined to combat negative phenomena in football. Zero tolerance is the policy towards racism, and the UEFA anti-doping campaign warns young footballers in particular against the career-threatening dangers of drugs. The UEFA technical study group scheme, in which national associations share know-how, is proving to be a resounding success. The second four-year cycle of the ambitious UEFA HatTrick assistance programme reaffirms UEFA's commitment to helping its member associations and reinvesting funds within the European game. UEFA is also working together in partnership with a number of bodies to underline the belief that football's status and popularity can contribute to health and social cohesion in Europe.
At the vanguard
At the end of a fascinating year, UEFA remains firmly established as one of the key players in European football – with the motto 'football first' at the heart of its work on behalf of the game.
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