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Developing football in Switzerland

Programmes to identify and foster Switzerland’s talented young footballers are aimed at maintaining the positive standards set by the men’s and women’s national teams in recent years.

©AFP/Getty Images

Overview

Source: UEFA Grassroots survey (2019)

The Swiss Football Association has set a series of key strategic goals. These include anchoring Swiss football as a pillar of society, in terms of health and integration policy. The promotion of elite young talent and women's football is also high on the agenda. Another major challenge will be to maintain and improve structures after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association’s drive to promote women’s football is bearing impressive fruit. In 2016, there were 20,000 licensed female footballers. This figure rose to 25,000 in 2020. The women’s national team is proving to be a catalyst, reaching two UEFA Women’s EUROs and a FIFA Women’s World Cup in the past few years.

During the COVID-19 period, the Swiss FA has made an important contribution to creating a spirit of solidarity among the population with targeted campaigns involving not only the Swiss national team, but also local amateur teams.

Football development activities have been crucial in helping the men’s national team qualify for EURO 2020 and other major tournaments for many years now. These activities and the resultant progress have laid the foundations for the team’s success. It has been possible to continually integrate young players into the team, keeping the national team set-up fresh and constantly evolving. The Swiss FA hopes in particular that UEFA EURO 2020 will represent a new beginning after a year of difficulties and restrictions caused by the pandemic.

UEFA support

Funds from UEFA’s HatTrick programme have been invested in the development of young talent and women’s football. With HatTrick support, the Swiss FA is making a significant contribution to social development and progress in Switzerland. The Swiss Football Association has also welcomed the early provision of HatTrick funds during the pandemic, because this has enabled it to continue projects that were already under way.

Recent HatTrick funding

National women's youth football academy

An ongoing project which continues until June 2024. Main objectives:

  • Providing the most talented girls aged 13 to 15 with top-class sports-related support.
  • Providing the most talented female players with an optimum combination of football, school and personal development.
  • On a long-term basis, increasing the competitiveness of the Swiss senior women’s national team.
The women's under-17 team shocked Germany at the 2019 finals
The women's under-17 team shocked Germany at the 2019 finals©Sportsfile

This project envisages the development of approximately 7–10 talented players (aged 13–15) per age group (in total, approximately, 18–22 players/year). The selected players undertake a training programme focused on technique, tactics, physical condition and speed. Girls also attend state school and follow the school and culture studies programme organised by the town of Biel/Bienne, preparing them for their professional future.

HatTrick V – SFV/ASF performance centres

An ongoing project which continues until 2024. Main objectives:

  • Providing the most talented male football players aged 15 to 21 with complete, targeted and optimum development.
  • On a mid and long-term basis, improving the competitiveness of the top two Swiss leagues (Super League and Challenge League) and the quality of the Swiss national teams.

The label of SFV/ASF Performance Centre will be given to top clubs that fulfil quality criteria in elite youth football, and the most talented male football players aged 15 to 21 will be developed at those centres. The domains of football, support, academic/professional education and scouting will be linked together into a holistic concept, and players will play matches for clubs that have the label.

UEFA Foundation for Children in Switzerland

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.

Just for Smiles

The aim of the project is to give children with disabilities the greatest possible access to sailing and well-being. Just for Smiles seeks to have a lasting impact on the participants and their independence.

Children are enrolled in a sailing activity to suit their preferences, abilities and needs in terms of motor skills and sensation. They spend a half day laughing and feeling the thrill of being on a lake. This adapted sports activity is particularly useful in the treatment of neurological conditions such as spinal injury, head injury and stroke.

There are over 150,000 children with disabilities in Switzerland. The COVID-19 pandemic has isolated them at home. To help them reintegrate and readjust, Just for Smiles plans to expand its sailing programme to reach more beneficiaries.

Timeline

Association history

1860s/70s: teams of students and teachers at English private schools in the Lausanne/Geneva region are said to have played a game mixing football and rugby. Lausanne Football and Cricket Club is also founded during this era.
1879:
FC St Gallen, Switzerland’s oldest existing club, is founded.
1895:
Swiss FA founded.
1904:
Swiss FA is one of seven national associations which establish the world body, FIFA.
1925:
Swiss Cup for men staged for the first time.
1954:
Swiss FA is a founder member of UEFA.
1954:
Switzerland hosts the FIFA World Cup finals.
1975:
inaugural Swiss Cup for women played.
2003:
Swiss Football League founded, in charge of the two highest men’s divisions.

Switzerland reached the finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019
Switzerland reached the finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2019©AFP

National team competitions

1905: Swiss national team play their first official match against France, losing by a single goal.
1924: Switzerland reach the final of the Olympic football tournament in Paris, going down to Uruguay.
1934: national team take part in their first FIFA World Cup finals. Further appearances follow in 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1994, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
1972: Switzerland’s national women’s team play their first match against France in Basel.
1996:
Switzerland reach their first EURO finals – to be followed by other appearances in 2004, 2008 (co-hosts), 2016 and 2020.
2008: together with Austria, Switzerland hosts UEFA EURO 2008.
2009: Swiss men’s Under-17 team become the first team from Switzerland to win a world title.
2011: Under-21 team finish as European Championship runners-up.
2015: Swiss national women’s team compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals for the first time.
2017: women’s team make their first appearance in the Women’s EURO finals. A second appearance will follow in 2022.
2019: Switzerland reach the inaugural UEFA Nations League semi-finals.

Dominique Blanc
Dominique Blanc©Peter Schneider (Keystone-SDA)

President

Dominique Blanc 

Nationality: Swiss
Date of birth: 5 December 1949
Association president since: 2019 

Robert Breiter
Robert Breiter©SFV-ASF

General secretary

Robert Breiter

Nationality: Swiss
Date of birth: 22 April 1973
Association general secretary since: October 2018

Swiss Football Association website (Swiss German)
Swiss Football Association website (French)
Swiss Football Association website (Italian)