In the new UEFA•direct, UEFA President Michel Platini welcomes the surprises lighting up the European Qualifiers and hails the Women in Football Leadership and Captains of Change programmes.
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Exciting, vibrant and unpredictable – these are three words I would use to describe the football we have witnessed so far during the European Qualifiers.
With an expanded 24-team UEFA EURO 2016 in France, we have seen many teams playing with a renewed sense of purpose, harbouring real aspirations of participating in our flagship tournament for the first time.
I know it is early in the qualifying campaign but we have already seen some historic results, with some of the traditional 'smaller' sides beating established superpowers on their way to leading their groups. The great news is that more fans than ever have been able to watch all the action, since the new Week of Football concept makes more action available to more people on TVs around Europe. The viewing figures have been fantastic across the continent as we continue to increase the exposure of national team football. Exposure leads to development and that is at the core of what I stand for as UEFA President.
Development is indeed crucial to me, and I am happy that together with key stakeholders we are working for it on and off the field. I was pleased to take part in the second edition of the Women in Football Leadership programme in Nyon which featured the presence of former European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding. I am a big supporter of this programme because it aims to give talented women from our national associations the tools they need to succeed in football and make their voices heard in a world that has been dominated by men for too long.
It is my belief that we must also increase the presence of minorities in football management and administration and I am pleased we are addressing this issue with the creation of the Captains of Change programme. Football should be a force for integration and hopefully this initiative will promote diversity of all kinds across our game and our institutions.