UEFA has launched its UEFA For Players scheme which aims to offer guidance and essential information to footballers in a number of different areas to ensure their well-being on and off the pitch.
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Professional football can be a daunting proposition for players at any stage of their career. Aside from trying to impress and build a career on the field, footballers also have to navigate numerous potential pitfalls off it, such as dealing with instant fame and fortune and the media exposure and scrutiny this brings.
With these factors in mind, UEFA has launched its UEFA For Players initiative which seeks to help elite footballers in all aspects of their profession – on and off the pitch.
"UEFA is committed to providing high standards of education and expertise to all its stakeholders across Europe," said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. "Without footballers playing the game, the sport would not exist. Therefore it is our duty to provide players with all the support we can give them in order to ensure the long-term success and health of the game we all love and treasure."
Currently there is no centralised initiative to give the same level of education to footballers around the continent and share best practices. UEFA For Players aims to fill this gap, and will be available to national associations and clubs throughout Europe in the form of an app, which can be downloaded.
UEFA For Players is a combination of different resources, including face-to-face seminars during tournaments and online-based seminars. Meanwhile, on a day-to-day basis, players will be able to access an app that guides them through eight essential topics affecting the lives of professional footballers.
The UEFA For Players app contains a wide range of educational modules on the various topics, all based on immersive simulation videos and real-life case studies. The application is highly interactive and gamified, delivering the latest information on football career management.
"We wanted to give players something they could use practically. By creating this app, we are giving them career management knowledge at the touch of a screen," said the head of the UEFA Academy, Thomas Junod.
"Players will be able to go through various simulations on eight different subjects – ranging from dealing with the media, to learning about the dangers of match-fixing and what to do if approached. The overarching aim is to ensure professional players are better equipped to tackle the challenges they face on and off the pitch."
The app has been developed by players themselves who have played at the highest level and recognise the difficulties a professional athlete can face during their career. For example, former Portugal forward Nuno Gomes stresses the importance of knowing the key Laws of the Game, while ex-Germany midfielder Simon Rolfes, explains how vital it is for professionals to keep track of and manage their finances correctly.
Former German international Bianca Rech understands the value of looking ahead to a career after football. Following retirement in 2015, she had a clear plan of wanting to work in football administration, which took her to the 1.FC Köln and then UEFA. Rech, now women's team manager at Bayern München, shares her expertise about planning for life after football.
"UEFA For Players is a great initiative because it gives players the tools to develop their careers off the field," said Rech. "It is a combination of knowledge-sharing, training, expertise and personal development. I truly believe UEFA For Players will have an immense impact and I hope it will change mindsets."
The app will be made available to national associations, clubs and other football organisations to distribute to players, while the platform will initially be accessible in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian and Spanish.
• My UEFA – Key messages about UEFA, its values, roles and mission
• Anti-Doping – Information on anti-doping to raise awareness and protect players
• UEFA Integrity – Key information and takeaway messages on integrity to better protect players
• My Game – Key information about the Laws of the Game and the regulations of UEFA's main competitions
• My Second Career – Information on preparing for a career off the pitch and education programmes that can help
• My Image – Communication, media and social media training with the main do's and don'ts and takeaway messages.
• My Finances – Information on the importance of players properly managing their finances and financial obligations
• Social Fair Play – Information on diversity and inclusion and how to act as agents of change on and off the field