The European Commissioner responsible for sport, Androulla Vassiliou, has visited the House of European Football in Nyon for talks with UEFA President Michel Platini and discussions with representatives of UEFA's new Women in Football Leadership Programme (WFLP).
Discussions between Mr Platini and Mrs Vassiliou focused on the innovative new programme, as well as on other key European football issues, and continued the long-standing positive and constructive dialogue between European football's governing body and the European authorities.
During her visit, Mrs Vassiliou gave a keynote speech on the development of women's football in Europe. She emphasised her support for women to take up leading positions in the European game and took part in a question-and-answer session with the audience.
"It was very inspiring to participate in today's Women in Football Leadership Programme here in Nyon," said Mrs Vassiliou. "Gender equality is high on the Commission's agenda."
The WFLP seeks to identify individuals who have the potential to become leaders, and will help them to develop the appropriate skills. In addition, women already in leadership positions will be offered extra support in their roles.
"The Women in Football Leadership Programme's aim is to encourage more women to be in decision-making roles in football," said Mr Platini. "This process can take time of course, but we hope that this programme will be a first big step towards this goal.
"We need to try to change the mentality of people in the sport, in the associations, in European clubs, at UEFA too," the UEFA President added. "We have to change the mentality, and the participants in this Women in Football Leadership Programme can help us achieve this.
"I was very pleased to speak with Mrs Vassiliou, and the meeting gave us an opportunity to align our strategies regarding various important matters for European football."
"My visit to UEFA was also a good opportunity to look back at the cooperation over the past few years," Mrs Vassiliou added. "Good governance has been a focal point for both organisations, ranging from gender equality to financial sustainability. In this respect, I would like to reiterate the Commission's support for the objectives of the Financial Fair Play rules that UEFA has developed. The full implementation of the FFP rules, which is an excellent example of self-regulation, is a key step to promote better governance in football clubs.
"Third-party ownership is another important element relating to good governance. It raises a number of questions on integrity as well as broader ethical concerns. UEFA is looking at this closely and the Commission stands ready to offer its expertise in these efforts. We also discussed the home-grown players rule and agreed that further incentives are necessary to stimulate the training of local players in the interests of the long-term development and societal role of sport."
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