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Former Germany and 1. FFC Frankfurt defender Steffi Jones has been unveiled in the new role of ambassador for the UEFA women's football development programme (WFDP).
Jones, who ended her distinguished playing career in 2007, was presented ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32 second leg between Frankfurt and Stabæk FK at the Am Brentano Bad stadium. Also at the ceremony were German Football Association (DFB) president and UEFA Executive Committee member Dr Theo Zwanziger, as well as UEFA Executive Committee member by invitation and chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee, Karen Espelund.
As president of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup organising committee, Steffi Jones made a significant contribution to the event in Germany, which received global praise and attracted record crowds and television audiences. In her playing days, Jones won two UEFA Women's Cups with Frankfurt and three UEFA European Women's Championships, two Olympic bronze medals and the 2003 Women's World Cup with Germany. Following this summer's World Cup, Jones became DFB director of girls and women's football.
UEFA President Michel Platini said: "UEFA is happy to be working in partnership with the DFB to raise the profile of women's football. Steffi Jones is an ideal figurehead for this. UEFA also continues to support all of its member associations in women's football development. The 2011 Women's World Cup brought women's football to centre stage and we need to continue the good work."
DFB president Zwanziger said: "Steffi Jones took on a big responsibility and did a great job as president of the organising committee for the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany. Her wisdom, charisma and receptiveness earned her an excellent public profile. It will take lots of projects and faces to turn this fantastic World Cup into sustainable benefits for women's football worldwide. This is why I'm delighted that UEFA has decided to appoint Steffi Jones as the European organisation's women's football ambassador."
Jones, 38, said: "I am delighted to take on this important challenge. Being UEFA's ambassador for women's football development is a great honour and I am looking forward to further contributing to the rise of women's football."
In December 2010, the UEFA Executive Committee approved the distribution of WFDP funds through its HatTrick assistance programme: an initial pilot phase in 2010/2011 saw the distribution of €50,000 each to four national associations; from October 2011, the second pilot phase – for 2011/12 – will receive an additional budget and will increase its funding to member associations from four to an unlimited number, because of the large interest.
From July 2012 to 2016, HatTrick III's WFDP will be awarding each member association €100,000 on a yearly basis to be used specifically for the development of girls and women's football. This represents a total investment of €22m and a clear demonstration of UEFA's commitment to the development of the female game.
Karen Espelund presented UEFA's guiding strategy for women's football development at a meeting of all 53 national associations in September. She stated that UEFA pledges to lead the development of all aspects of the girls and women's game as a key priority, and will endeavour to act as a role model through concrete action and by bringing women into governing positions.
Germany stages the 2012 UEFA Women's Champions League final in Munich on 17 May, two days before the men's decider in the same city. "It's great to have a Champions League final in Germany, and for women it'll be exciting to reach another milestone after organising the World Cup," Jones said. "So it's another highlight and hopefully we'll have one or two German teams in the final, which would be great."
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