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UEFA•direct 145

Elections at this week's XXXIX Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna have priority billing in edition No145 of UEFA's official publication, UEFA•direct.

UEFA•direct appears in English, French and German
UEFA•direct appears in English, French and German ©UEFA

Elections at this week's XXXIX Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna, the UEFA winter gathering for referees in Athens and the seminar in Amsterdam on institutional discrimination take pride of place in edition No145 of UEFA's official publication, UEFA•direct.

A series of elections will take place in Vienna on Tuesday – for the UEFA presidency, where current UEFA President Michel Platini is the only candidate; for seven seats on the UEFA Executive Committee (12 candidates are standing for election); and for one FIFA vice-president, one FIFA vice-president representing the four British associations, and one FIFA Executive Committee member. UEFA•direct presents the 12 UEFA Executive Committee candidates, who all outline the reasons for their candidacies, as well as the policies they support.

UEFA's men and women referees – experienced match officials and newcomers to the international list – travelled to Greece in February for their annual winter courses, not only to test their fitness, but also to review the first half of the season and prepare for upcoming assignments in the major club and national-team competitions. UEFA•direct looks back at an intensive week in Athens when the referees were encouraged to act as role models and ambassadors when representing UEFA, urged to strive for top performance and achieve consistency in decision-making, and profit from the wise education given to them by the group of experienced former referees who are now members of UEFA's Referees Committee.

UEFA is determined to introduce greater diversity within football, and UEFA•direct covers the recent institutional discrimination seminar in Amsterdam. Footballers, politicians, academics and key stakeholder groups were involved in the seminar, which identified a chronic shortage of women and ethnic minorities in senior leadership roles in football, and a lack of ethnic minorities in coaching positions. In Amsterdam, Netherlands great Clarence Seedorf was appointed UEFA's new global ambassador for diversity and change, and the article includes the resolution adopted at the seminar to take the issue forward.

On this same topic, UEFA President Michel Platini welcomes various recent initiatives launched as part of efforts to ensure that football is utilised as a force for good. "The Women in Football Leadership Programme has been a success," he says in his editorial column, "as it continues to give women the tools they need in order to increase their opportunities to work in football administration."

"The introduction of the Captains of Change initiative should also be praised since it supports projects in Europe aiming to improve the professional prospects of minorities within the game. This is incredibly important since I believe that diversity makes football stronger at every level. Hopefully our programmes will help break stereotypes and challenge the way we have always looked at the power structures in our game," Mr Platini adds.

The UEFA Youth League continues to excel in its second season – dispelling the argument that the competition would not fulfil the promise of its inaugural campaign in 2013/14. UEFA•direct looks at the closing stages of this season's competition, and profiles some of the players who have made the step up to their club's senior team in the UEFA Champions League – thereby achieving one of the UEFA Youth League's key objectives.

Preparations for UEFA EURO 2016 in France continue apace, with less than 500 days to go now until the competition kicks off on 10 June next year. UEFA•direct looks at various key areas – stadiums, hospitality, team base camps, sponsors, ticketing, and the legacy that UEFA and the French hosts want to leave behind from European national team football's blue-riband competition.

Football's power as an important social force has never been in doubt. Acknowledging the role that football can play in uniting people, UEFA commemorated the 100th anniversary of the football match that brought about a Christmas truce during the First World War, at a ceremony in Ploogsteert, Belgium. An article in UEFA•direct No145 looks at the story behind the match, and the remarkable expression of humanity that was transmitted by those who, as Michel Platini put it, "by playing the most beautiful game in the world – sent us, through time, a powerful message of peace and fraternity".

UEFA•direct is published in English, French and German, and is essential reading for anyone interested in UEFA's activities and competitions, and the sterling work undertaken by its 54 member associations.