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'Football will always come first'

The report of the UEFA President and Executive Committee for 2013/14, approved at the Ordinary UEFA Congress, portrays the activities and decisions through an intensive year.

The UEFA Executive Committee at its recent meeting in Nyon.
The UEFA Executive Committee at its recent meeting in Nyon. ©Getty Images for UEFA

Protecting football's good health, promoting development, seeking dialogue. UEFA's Executive Committee, chaired by UEFA President Michel Platini, has helped steer the body through another intense year, as portrayed in the report for 2013/14 approved at the XXXIX Ordinary UEFA Congress in Vienna.

The report of the UEFA President and Executive Committee, which is published together with the annual report of the UEFA administration, looks back at the catalogue of activities and decisions over the period between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014.

The period under review, the report says, was notable for UEFA's continued determination to preserve European football's well-being and integrity. The report highlights in particular how UEFA, through financial fair play, has made the long-term safeguarding of European club football's financial stability a major priority. "It became clear during the period under review," the report states, "that the financial fair play measures are beginning to have a positive effect.

"The various criteria that were fully implemented during the 2013/14 season are aimed at helping clubs manage and balance their income and costs in a sustainable way in order to counter the financial excesses and irresponsible spending that have pushed some European clubs into serious financial difficulty in recent years."

UEFA's campaign against match-fixing and corruption has intensified, the report continues. The zero-tolerance stance against racism and discrimination in football was consolidated; and the fight against doping remained a major priority. There has been solid backing from the European national associations and other sectors of the European football community, and UEFA pledges to pursue education, prevention and punishment as the main instruments to counter these dangers.

"The Executive Committee has identified the fight against match-fixing and corruption as a key activity for UEFA," the report explains, "given that match-fixing is seen as one of the most serious threats to the integrity of the game and its competitions (...) However, UEFA and its member associations are conscious that football authorities are not equipped to solve the problem of match-fixing on their own. It is only by working together with government authorities and law enforcement agencies that this problem can be eliminated once and for all." An 11-point resolution entitled 'European football united for the integrity of the game' was adopted at the UEFA Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan, in March 2014, underlining the firm commitment to eliminating this scourge.

The work undertaken in the fight against racism by the European football family and its partners continues to be spotlighted each October on specific UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matchdays, the report says. In addition, a new article on racism and other forms of discrimination was added to the UEFA Statutes in the review period, stipulating that member associations should implement effective policies aimed at eradicating racism and discrimination from football, and that they should punish those guilty of any such behaviour.

UEFA's foundation project structure also took shape in the period covered by the report. The foundation, approved by the UEFA member associations at the Astana Congress, will especially help children by providing important support in various areas.

National team football remains a crucial source of national identity, with UEFA's commitment being reinforced during the period under review. "The 'EURO for Europe' approach to the UEFA European Championship final tournament in 2020 received strong support from the member associations," the report says. "Moreover, the new 'Week of Football' concept for the European Qualifiers for [UEFA] EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup will allow fans to watch more international football than ever before." In the meantime, the report emphasises that the major club competitions, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, continued to go from strength to strength as a public and commercial attraction.

UEFA has football's development at the heart of its activities, and the report describes the wealth of work taking place to nurture the European game with regard to football infrastructures, technical matters, management and governance, and the progress of the European national associations. By way of an example, at its meeting in Astana in March 2014, the Executive Committee approved the financial distribution scheme for the HatTrick IV programme, with a total of €600m earmarked for UEFA's 54 member associations to aid their activities and fund long-term investment, in order to develop and foster football at all levels.

Various development and education programmes, the report goes on, see national associations exchange information and share advice for the overall well-being of the sport. The Study Group Scheme facilitates technical exchanges; the UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme disseminates medical knowledge and expertise; the KISS knowledge-sharing initiative promotes solidarity and equality across the European football family in various areas; and courses and workshops, among others, for referees and coaches continue to prove their value in raising standards in both these sectors.

The report also welcomes developments in women's football, in particular the UEFA Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP) driving the female game forward throughout Europe, and the Women in Football Leadership Programme (WFLP), which is designed to help bring more women into senior positions.

UEFA's relationship with the European Union remains positive, with UEFA defending football's interests and the European political authorities understanding the need for fruitful dialogue and often responding favourably to UEFA's policies and initiatives. UEFA, the report notes, has also boosted relations with sister continental confederations, signing memorandums of understanding for football development with the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).

"The UEFA President and Executive Committee have remained true to their course, and have worked hard to nurture European football's good health," the report concludes. "They have done so through careful decision-making, while also pursuing constant dialogue, consultation and exchanges at UEFA events and committee/working meetings, as well as on the major platform provided by the UEFA Congress. This policy will continue to be pursued in the future, and football will always come first."

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