2018 – UEFA moves onwards and upwards

We take a look back at some of the news and events that have marked UEFA's last 12 months.

Raheem Sterling (England) scores against Spain in the inaugural UEFA Nations League
Raheem Sterling (England) scores against Spain in the inaugural UEFA Nations League ©Getty Images

National team football enjoys the spotlight as the UEFA Nations League proves a resounding success, and the journey to UEFA EURO 2020 officially begins ... Germany are named hosts of UEFA EURO 2024 ... the European club game is to be enhanced by a third UEFA competition ... Video Assistant Referees (VAR) get the go-ahead in major European competitions ... women's football drives forward ... UEFA reinforces relations and dialogue with major stakeholders and partners ... campaigns to promote diversity, inclusion and accessibility in football make strong progress ... and stars and fans share in a memorable UEFA/United Nations Match for Solidarity.

Just some of the highlights of a year of progress for UEFA.

JANUARY

UEFA's ninth club licensing benchmarking report on European club football highlights how UEFA's financial fair play regulations have created a more stable and sustainable financial position for European top-division clubs.

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A record of almost 8.8 million votes are cast in the UEFA.com fans' Team of the Year 2017 poll with players from the Spanish league dominating the final XI.

FEBRUARY

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UEFA's 42nd Ordinary Congress and latest UEFA Executive Committee meeting take place in the Slovak capital Bratislava. The European body announces record prize money for UEFA EURO 2020 and record grants for the development of the game in Europe, while the European Leagues also now have a representative on the Executive Committee.

"We have the power to shape the football of the future," UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin tells the 42nd Ordinary UEFA Congress in Bratislava as he emphasises the body's determination to "make European football as big as it can be".

In Brussels, UEFA and the European Commission sign a renewed and extended Arrangement for Cooperation, which provides for both organisations to work closely together in many areas.

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An outstanding UEFA Futsal EURO in Ljubljana, Slovenia, sees Portugal lift the title and their captain Ricardinho named as first-ever official UEFA Futsal EURO Player of the Tournament – having finished as seven-goal top scorer. His career total of 22 UEFA Futsal EURO finals goals is a new record.

MARCH

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UEFA reinforces its dialogue and relationships with European institutions at a series of meetings in Brussels.

UEFA marks 11 years of helping Afghan landmine victims when Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne presents a cheque for €100,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

APRIL

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The inaugural UEFA/United Nations Match for Solidarity in Geneva sees a galaxy of football stars thrill 23,000-plus fans, with proceeds going to the UEFA Foundation for Children, and funds used to finance humanitarian and development projects to help children with disabilities at local and global levels.

Football can empower women, promote gender equality and challenge stereotypes – the view put forward by UEFA's head of women's football Nadine Kessler at a European Parliament conference in Brussels.

MAY

UEFA and the Council of Europe sign a historic memorandum of understanding in Strasbourg, formalising and enhancing their cooperation in the interests of the long-term development of sport and its role in society.

Speaking at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin stresses UEFA's commitment to cooperation and dialogue with European institutions and public authorities to protect the best interests of football and sport in general.

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UEFA's #EqualGame campaign promoting diversity, inclusion and accessibility in football enters the spotlight with a series of activities during the week of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women's Champions League finals in Kyiv, as well as at the UEFA Europa League final in Lyon.

In an address to European Union sports ministers in Brussels, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin urges the European political authorities to work together with UEFA for "a European football that is fair, unpredictable, open and united".

UEFA's latest Football and Social Responsibility Report underlines UEFA's social responsibility achievements, as well as those of partner bodies, in the fields of diversity, inclusion, environment, health, peace and reconciliation, solidarity and fan dialogue.

JUNE

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UEFA announces that €605,000 in total was raised from April's Match for Solidarity in Geneva, with the funds serving to support initiatives that use sport and in particular football as a way to promote inclusion among children living with disabilities.

JULY

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Europe enjoys a superb FIFA World Cup in Russia, supplying six of the quarter-finalists, all four semi-finalists, winners France and runners-up Croatia. UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin praises for the quality of European national team football, while UEFA's HatTrick assistance progamme proves its value as a catalyst in the progress of football on this continent.

AUGUST

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Luka Modrić (Real Madrid and Croatia) and Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg and Denmark) are named UEFA Men's Player and Women's Player of the Year for 2017/18 respectively at a ceremony during the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco. There are also Champions League positional awards, and Atlético de Madrid striker Antoine Griezman wins the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League Player of the Year prize.

England icon David Beckham is the recipient of the 2018 UEFA President's Award from UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin in Monaco.

The first UEFA #EqualGame award winner is Georgian national team player Guram Kashia. This award aims to recognise a player who has acted as a role model in promoting diversity, inclusion and accessibility in European football.

Former Italian referee Roberto Rosetti is announced as UEFA's new chief refereeing officer. He succeeds Pierluigi Collina, who chooses to step down for personal reasons.

SEPTEMBER

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The UEFA Executive Committee, meeting in Nyon, decides to introduce Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, from the play-off stage of the competition in August 2019 (In December, the launch was brought forward to the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League round of 16 in February 2019). In addition, the committee decides that VAR will be used at the 2019 UEFA Super Cup. UEFA also plans to subsequently extend the use of VAR to the UEFA EURO 2020 finals, the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League (group stage onwards), and the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals.

At a ceremony in Nyon, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin announces that Germany will host the UEFA European Football Championship final tournament in 2024.

UEFA's financial fair play regulations have made European football finances stronger than ever before. New UEFA figures analysing the finances of 718 first-division clubs in Europe show that in 2017, for the first time on record, European top-division club football was profitable. European clubs are now making €600m profits compared with the €1,700m combined losses in 2011.

OCTOBER

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European clubs, national teams and their players join forces with UEFA and the Fare network at European competition matches to promote diversity, inclusion and accessibility in football, and back the drive to rid the game of discrimination.

UEFA reveals that it is increasing funding in its Women's Football Development Programme by 50%, to show the organisation's commitment to supporting the women's game.

England, Finland and Iceland are the gold winners in the 2018 UEFA Grassroots Awards, which reward leaders, clubs and projects across Europe for their outstanding grassroots football work.

NOVEMBER

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UEFA's Executive Committee more than doubles its annual funding for the UEFA Foundation for Children to €6.8m, in order for the charity to help disadvantaged children across the globe.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin and European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli present a signed letter of intent to the European Union commissioner for sport Tibor Navracsics – emphasising the willingness of UEFA and the ECA to continue to work together in the coming years to ensure the sustainable development of European football.

The route towards the use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in UEFA competitions takes an important leap forward as Europe's referees attend a training course in Madrid.

DECEMBER

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UEFA EURO 2020 – to be played in 12 cities around Europe – comes a big step closer, as Dublin hosts an exciting qualifying draw ceremony.

An entertaining inaugural UEFA Nations League campaign – proving the worth of UEFA's new national team competition – culminates in England, Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland reaching next summer's Finals in Portugal.

At its meeting in Dublin, the UEFA Executive Committee approves the creation of a third UEFA club competition for the 2021–24 competition cycle.

The Executive Committee also decides to use Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in the UEFA Champions League at an earlier stage – from the round of 16 in February 2019.

A landmark moment is celebrated as Visa becomes the first ever sponsor of UEFA women's football in a partnership running from 2018–25.

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