Sixty years

A 60th birthday is something to savour; 60 years of age brings wisdom, experience, and the feeling of a path behind that is filled with success and achievement. UEFA can look back with immense pride on 60 years of excellence in the service of European football.

UEFA was founded by a group of pioneering administrators in Basel, Switzerland on 15 June 1954. Since then, the parent body of European football – one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA – has grown into the cornerstone of the game on this continent, working with and acting on behalf of Europe's national football associations and other stakeholders in the game to promote football and strengthen its position as arguably the most popular sport in the world.

The guiding principle of the initiators in the early 1950s was the fostering and development of unity and solidarity among the European football community. Now, 60 years later, UEFA's mission remains very much the same, but it has also become the 'guardian' of football in Europe, protecting and nurturing the well-being of the sport at all levels, from the elite and its stars to the thousands who play the game as a hobby.

When UEFA was founded, the body comprised 31 national associations. The number of member associations rose gradually until the beginning of the 1990s, when political developments in eastern Europe and the fragmentation of the USSR led to a rapid growth in the number of new associations. Consequently, there are now 55 associations under UEFA's wing.

On the field, 60 years of UEFA competition action has produced a glittering array of stars from across the continent, a host of wonderful club teams, and a vast catalogue of unforgettable matches and fantastic goals. In the stadiums and in front of their TV screens, football fans young and old have marvelled week in, week out at the skills and excitement on display.

In 2014, UEFA celebrated its 60th anniversary in appropriate style, proud of how its visions and mission have been consistently fulfilled along the way; of how its relationship with its national associations has remained steadfast and flourishing; of how it has involved countless other stakeholders in the constant quest to develop, improve and safeguard European football’s myriad facets; of how it has kept pace with football's relentless evolution; and how much joy has been given to millions by the actors on the field across the decades.

'Football first' is a fitting way to describe UEFA's philosophy over 60 memorable years. UEFA cares passionately for the game's well-being, and is devoted to nurturing a healthy and co-operative European football family. The path stretching out ahead in the coming years is sure to be an exciting, fruitful and stimulating adventure.

UEFA has published a book to mark its 60th anniversary. UEFA - 60 Years at the Heart of Football was written by André Vieli, who worked for UEFA’s administration for 31 years, in particular as the long-standing editor of the body’s official publications.

The book, which appears in English, French and German, recalls the main stages of the development of European football’s governing body. It aims to pay tribute to the pioneers of the past and to all those members of committees, the administration and other bodies who have followed in their footsteps, acting not for themselves but in the interests of football and UEFA’s good name.