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Developing football in Austria

Austrian football has a rich and memorable history, with attention in recent years on rediscovering early successes.

Source: UEFA Grassroots survey (2019)

Overview

The guiding principle of the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) is to promote, develop and support football throughout the country – and to make the benefits of football for Austrian society more visible, thereby promoting unity and solidarity under the motto More than Sport!

The main aims are to:

  • Keep active players interested and keep retired players close to the game;
  • Develop and promote women’s football and increase the numbers of active players at grassroots level;
  • Further implement and develop the ÖFB’s digital strategy to support these strategic goals;
  • Strengthen and develop the ÖFB’s infrastructure.

Much of this promotion and solidarity drive seeks to tackle the high dropout rate among players, coaches, officials and volunteers brought about by the pandemic, which has led to a decline of 20% in young players.

UEFA support

How EURO funds football development in Austria
How EURO funds football development in Austria

UEFA’s HatTrick programme, which channels EURO funds into football development across Europe, has allowed the ÖFB to continue its impressive recent development of women's football.

Austria were semi-finalists in 2017 at their first Women's EURO – the result of launching a girls' football academy to establish a pathway for young talent to reach the national team. Originally opened in 2010, the residential academy provides up to 50 talented young players aged 14–19 with a national training centre while still offering a traditional classroom-based education.

The Austrian FA was one of the earliest adopters of the first Europe-wide grassroots project especially for girls, Playmakers. Launched in spring 2020 by UEFA in cooperation with Disney, Playmakers encourages five to eight-year-old girls to find their way into football through a unique game and training concept based on the stories of well-known Disney films. Over 300 girls have already taken part in the first edition, and the second edition of the Playmakers project is in the starting blocks in 34 Austrian cities.

Projekt12, the ÖFB’s flagship programme for the most talented players, is partly financed by HatTrick. Numerous current women's and men's national team players have gone through this programme. It has been a significant factor in the development of the national team and the individual quality of the players.

UEFA Foundation for Children in Austria

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.

Kicken ohne Grenzen

Kicken ohne Grenzen's (Football Without Borders) mission is to use the unifying power of football to help young people from disadvantaged communities integrate into society.

Around 11% of Austria's 15 to 24-year-olds are neither in training nor employed. Most of these young people have a migration or refugee background, very often lack self-confidence, motivation, self-discipline, family support, and the skills required to manage their re-entry into the education system and start working towards a career.

By using weekly football sessions as a tool to discover and develop skills and potential that can be transferred into everyday life and applied in practice, Kicken ohne Grenzen has also been able to deliver social workshops and CV sessions to hundreds of women and men.

Timeline

Association history

1890 Football is first introduced to Austria in 1890 by English gardeners working for the Rothschild banking family in Vienna. 1894 Austria's first clubs are formed in the capital: First Vienna Football Club and the Cricketers. 1904 The ÖFB is founded, becoming a member of world governing body FIFA a year later. 1905 Austrian goalkeeper Karl Pekarna moves from Vienna to Scottish side Rangers FC, completing the first international transfer in football history. 1924 The nation's top two divisions turn professional, prompting a golden era for Austrian football. 1953 Reflecting the international success of some of Austria's finest players, the great Ernst Happel is part of a FIFA World XI that draws against England at Wembley Stadium in London. 1964 Vienna's Praterstadion, later renamed after Happel, hosts the European Cup final, Italy's Inter triumphing over Real Madrid. 1979 Hans Krankl, another star of Austrian football, helps Barcelona win the European Cup Winners' Cup. A year earlier, he had won the European Golden Boot, netting 41 times for SK Rapid Wien. 1987 The European Cup final returns to Vienna as Porto claim their first title with a 2-1 win against Bayern. Another Austrian forward, Toni Polster, wins the Golden Boot with 39 goals for Austria Wien. He remains the nation's top international scorer of all time. 1995 Ajax lift the UEFA Champions League trophy on Austrian soil thanks to a 1-0 win against AC Milan. Present day


National team history

1930 Despite not entering the inaugural World Cup, Austria's Wunderteam goes 16 matches unbeaten, firmly placing themselves on the football map. 1934 It is no surprise, then, when the side performs well in Italy at the World Cup, finishing fourth, before a silver medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. 1954 At the World Cup, Austria claim an impressive third place, beating hosts and neighbours Switzerland 7-5 in Lausanne before losing to West Germany in the semi-finals. Uruguay are defeated in the third place play-off. 1978 Austria reach the last eight of the World Cup in Argentina, recording a famous 3-2 win over West Germany. 1982 It is the second group stage, or quarter-final equivalent, once more on the world stage, this time in Spain. 1998 Austria make their most recent appearance at a World Cup, but fail to make it out of the group stage. 2008 Together with neighbours Switzerland, Austria successfully hosts UEFA EURO 2008, an important milestone in the history of the ÖFB. It is the nation's first appearance at a senior UEFA European Championship. 2016 Austria qualify for EURO 2016 with an impressive record of nine wins and a draw from qualifying. 2017 Austria's women reach their first major finals at Women's EURO 2017, topping a tough group and eventually reaching the semi-finals before losing on penalties to Denmark. Present day

Gerhard Millitech
Gerhard MillitechÖFB

President

Gerhard Milletich

Nationality: Austrian
Date of birth: 1 May 1956
Association general secretary since: October 2021

Thomas Hollerer
Thomas Hollerer©GEPA

General secretary

Thomas Hollerer

Nationality: Austrian
Date of birth: 9 November 1974
Association general secretary since: August 2016 

Austrian Football Association website