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Canal 11: Portuguese Football Federation's pioneering television channel

Despite the postponement of EURO 2020, UEFA quickly committed to its 2020 –24 funding cycle for HatTrick – the football development programme which, every four years, channels EURO revenue to UEFA’s 55 member associations. In a special series, we talk to five national associations about groundbreaking football projects that will continue to thrive thanks to UEFA’s decision.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin recenty visited the Canal 11 HQ
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin recenty visited the Canal 11 HQ Carolina Delgado

The Portuguese Football Federation's (FPF) Canal 11, the first-ever television channel run by a UEFA member association celebrated its first anniversary in August 2020.

Within the space of only one year, the channel has become the cornerstone of the FPF's content innovation project, which also includes the Portugal Football School – a higher education initiative focused entirely on the beautiful game.

"Canal 11 has been a game-changing tool for us," says Pedro Dias, FPF director. "The channel has also been a platform for us to respond to and raise awareness of socio-economic issues caused by COVID-19, both within our football family and the wider community. Without the backing of the UEFA HatTrick programme, we would not have been able to reach so many and do so much."

Read more about the HatTrick programme here.

All you need to know about Canal 11

A look inside Canal 11
A look inside Canal 11Carolina Delgado

What is Canal 11?

Canal 11 is an innovative content platform, with 50 dedicated staff. The television channel promotes Portuguese football through more than 600 live match broadcasts, with exclusive content and interviews with world-famous Portuguese players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, João Felix and many others. In addition to the sports dimension, the broadcasts have a strong social responsibility component and promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility.

With no rights to the Premeira Liga or Segunda Liga, the nation’s top two club competitions, or men's national team matches, Canal 11 is not taking all broadcast rights for Portuguese football under its remit. Rather, the emphasis is to “promote, protect and develop football,” according to the FPF president, Fernando Gomes.

How important is UEFA’s HatTrick funding to maintaining Canal 11’s success?

Pedro Dias: “No industry in Portugal has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the sports industry has suffered a lot. Despite all the problems affecting Portuguese football, the FPF has managed to continue its football development work with the assistance of the UEFA HatTrick programme.

“One crucial aspect of that work is our content innovation project, which includes our television channel (Canal 11) and our football-based university (Portugal Football School).

“Canal 11 not only promotes football but also shows that there is an interest and a market for competitions with less visibility like the women’s, futsal, youth and non-professional leagues. Boys and girls need to watch football outside the mainstream big leagues. They need to see free and amateur games, as well as women’s football, so they can connect to it. That is our main goal.

“In addition to the sports dimension, Canal 11 has a strong social responsibility element, as it broadcasts daily inspiring stories and projects that promote inclusion and diversity in football.”

Portugal's Canal 11 is headquartered at the FPF's 'Cidade do Futebol'
Portugal's Canal 11 is headquartered at the FPF's 'Cidade do Futebol'Carolina Delgado

Where are the headquarters of Canal 11?

To accommodate the new team and provide staff with the required, high-spec, technical equipment, the FPF built a new building within the state-of-the-art, FPF Cidade do Futebol (City of Football) premises, close to Lisbon, which opened in March 2016.

The complex, which was funded in part by UEFA’s HatTrick programme, also houses the FPF’s headquarters and technical centre.

What are Canal 11’s objectives?

- Broadcast 24/7
- Show matches of the national teams for which the FPF owns the rights (U21, U19, U17, women’s football and domestic cups)
- Generate online editorial content for canal11.pt
- Allow the FPF to provide an alternative and, possibly, a competitor to local sport broadcasters
- Promote different content angles: debates, dialogues, training and education.

What do viewers think of Canal 11?

Vitor Sobral, a lifelong Portuguese football fan and former sports journalist, producer and commentator, who recently moved to Portugal from Australia:

"The access they have to players and staff is excellent. Canal 11 have great interviewees, who often relive some of Portuguese football’s finest moments, which are always good to look back on! The talk shows are also really in-depth with great guests.

"There is a show on football tactics I like a lot, where they break down the games with great insight from well-known coaches, such as Jesualdo Ferreira and Pedro Caixinha. And the best thing, it’s practically free! It’s available on all the main television, phone and internet packages.

"The channel broadcasts a variety of matches that aren’t covered by the major channels. For example, Canal 11 broadcasts the Portuguese championship (third tier), UEFA Champions League qualifiers, Brazilian league, Korean league, Greek league, Polish league, Swiss league and the Mexican league.

"During lockdown, I really enjoyed watching the replays of Portugal’s UEFA EURO matches over the years, culminating in the recent win in France in 2016."

- Hear from UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin on how the organisation worked with the FPF to deliver the 2019/20 Champions League final eight