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Developing football in England

Known as the ‘home of football’, the first Laws of the Game were set down in England more than 150 years ago and the sport remains uniquely intwined with the country and its national identity.

©Getty Images


Source: UEFA Grassroots survey (2019)

Having given football to the world, England has seen the sport flourish all over the planet. The FA’s 2020–2024 strategy clearly lays out its focus on home shores over the next few years. Under the vision ‘Unite the game, inspire the nation’, it has developed two separate objective channels: ‘change the game’ and ‘serve the game’.

Game changer objectives

Win a major tournament
Serve two million+ people through a transformed digital platform
Ensure equal opportunities for every girl
Delivery of 5,000 quality pitches
A game free from discrimination
Maximise the appeal and revenue of the FA cups and Women’s Super League

Serve objectives


Trusted, progressive regulation and administration
Safe and inclusive football pathways and environment
Personalised and connectedlearning experiences
Maximum investment into the game
Diverse, high-performing workforce and inclusive culture
World-class venues and events
Strong reputation and clear brand identity
Technology enabled and insight driven

Using its people and culture as the catalyst, The FA has already made great strides on its mission to rebuild itself into a world-class organisation: from doubling participation in the women's and girls’ game to registering more than 1 million grassroots players online – a material step into the digital age.

The new strategy aims to build on those strong foundations and its six game changer objectives reflect The FA’s purpose. To make the largest possible impact in the years ahead, there is a conviction to change the fabric of the game and tackle long-term issues, and while these are are unlikely to be solved within four years, working collaboratively with clarity can help make a tangible step in the right direction.

Wembley Stadium will host EURO 2020 and Women's EURO 2022 finals
Wembley Stadium will host EURO 2020 and Women's EURO 2022 finals

With major milestones on the near horizon – including 150 years of England teams and the FA Cup, ten years of St. George’s Park and 100 years of Wembley – the world’s first football association is ready to remind its nation of the sport’s remarkable power as a force for good.

UEFA support

As is the case across Europe, the pandemic has had and continues to have an enormous financial impact in England, with significant revenue streams lost across broadcasting, sponsorship, events and hospitality. UEFA’s HatTrick programme helped to fund the ongoing operational costs of Wembley Stadium and also contributed to upgrades to the famous ground that ensured it met UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament criteria and requirements.

In addition, HatTrick contributed to the pitch maintenance at England’s UEFA EURO 2020 team base camp, the national training centre in Burton-upon-Trent, St George’s Park.

UEFA Foundation for Children in England

Set up in 2015, the UEFA Foundation uses football as a vehicle to help improve children’s lives by supporting hundreds of campaigns and projects across Europe and around the world.

Finding My Potential

The project focuses on developing the skills of young people through the medium of football to improve their chances of success when moving into the job market. The city of Liverpool has a youth unemployment rate of 10.8% and the objectives of Finding My Potential include both developing employability and leadership in those aged 14-21, while also helping inactive 8-12 year-olds get involved in sport, improving their health and well-being.

Team-building sessions, conflict resolution, training courses on the CARE (creativity, aspiration, resilience, empathy) model of leadership, nurture groups and several related qualifications and certificates are all part of the project's mix of activities.

By achieving a coaching and officiating qualification, followed by valuable work experience in a supportive environment, it is hoped young people will not only develop their confidence but also gain access to employment opportunities in their local community.


Association history

1863: The first-ever Laws of the Game are drawn up in a Covent Garden pub and the English Football Association is formed as clubs and schools that played their own versions of the sport met up to decide upon uniformity.
1871: A Challenge Cup is established and within a decade the original membership of 12 clubs has increased to 128. Wanderers win the first FA Cup final 1-0 against Royal Engineers at Kennington Oval in London in 1872.
1872: England play Scotland in Glasgow in first-ever official international.
1885: The FA legalises professionalism, having previously maintained a strictly amateur player stance.
1888: First football league established.
1906: The FA forms ties with FIFA in 1906 and after leaving and rejoining on a couple of occasions, renews its association definitively in 1946.
: FA Cup final venue moves to Wembley where it has remained – bar a six-year hiatus in Cardiff when the stadium was rebuilt – ever since.
1954: Joins UEFA.
1960s: The resurgence of the English national team culminates in winning the FIFA World Cup on home soil in 1966.
1972: First official women’s international match against Scotland.
1970s & 1980s: Sustained success for English clubs in UEFA competitions with Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa all lifting the European Cup.
1992: Premier League is created, breaking away from the football league.
1996: England hosts the hugely successful EURO ’96 tournament as it is expanded to 16 teams for the first time.
2013: The FA celebrates its 150th year by changing its logo to three golden lions.

National team competitions

 Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet trophy  following England's victory in the 1966 World Cup final
Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet trophy following England's victory in the 1966 World Cup final CENTRAL PRESS/AFP via Getty Imag

1950: England play at their maiden FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 1950.
1953: Seminal ‘match of the century’ against Hungary at Wembley with the 6-3 loss leading to a fundamental review of the tactics and style of play of the England team.
1966: Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks and Geoff Hurst lead England to FIFA World Cup glory at Wembley, the high-water mark of the country’s football history.
1970s: After World Cup exit at the hands of West Germany in 1970, England fail to qualify for major tournaments throughout the decade despite a talented pool of players.
1980s: England play at all major finals but fail to make a significant mark, their best performance being the World Cup quarter-final appearance against Argentina in 1986.
1982 & 1984: European Under-21 champions.
1984: Women’s team reach the final of the inaugural European championship but lose on penalties against Sweden. They lose in the semi-finals against the same opponents three years later.
1990: England’s men lose in the World Cup semi-finals on penalties against Germany.
1995: Women’s team reach the World Cup for the first time.
1996: The men suffer the same fate as in 1990 against the same opposition at EURO ’96.
2000s: Successive World Cup quarter-final defeats, going out at the same stage at EURO 2004.
2010s: Both the men’s and women’s teams fail to make a significant impact at EURO tournaments but the women reach two World Cup semi-finals while the men lose in the last four at the 2018 World Cup.

General secretary


Mark Bullingham

Nationality: British
Date of birth: 2 November 1974
Association CEO since: 2019

The Football Association website