After successfully concluding the 2019/20 Women's Champions League in Spain, UEFA is more determined than ever to fulfil its long-term strategy for women's football in Europe.
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Speaking after Olympique Lyonnais' victory in the 2019/20 UEFA Women's Champions League final, president Aleksander Čeferin has underlined the determination of European football's governing body to put women's football back on the front foot.
Despite the huge and rapid strides made by the women's game in recent seasons, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the fragility of a sport still in the early stages of building a sustainable future at grassroots and elite levels.
"The consequences of COVID-19 will be felt by football for some time, but it is at times like these that UEFA's support is more important than ever for safeguarding the long-term future of women's football in Europe," said Čeferin.
"We remain fully committed to our long-term vision for the women's game set out in Time for Action," added Čeferin, referring to the five-year strategy for women's football launched by UEFA at the Women's Champions League final in Budapest last year.
"We have already secured all the funding needed to implement the strategy over the next four years. This means that we will still be investing more in the female game than ever before," said Čeferin, emphasising that women's football is a critical pillar of UEFA's overall strategy, Together for the Future of Football.
UEFA Women's Champions League finals
President Čeferin believes that Sunday's successful conclusion of the Women's Champions League finals demonstrates the underlying strength of women's football in Europe.
"The UEFA Women's Champions League is one of the first female sports competitions to return to play," said Čeferin. "I am confident it will help kick-start the resumption of most domestic competitions across the continent."
Prior to the Women's Champions League finals in Spain, only participants playing for German clubs had returned to professional activity. However, more than 20 European domestic competitions are now up and running with a further 26 preparing to kick off their 2020/21 women's domestic seasons.
Women's football strategy critical to bouncing back
In the long term, however, UEFA believes implementing its overall strategy for women's football will be more important than any single tournament in ensuring the female game bounces back from this year's challenges.
Sunday's final between Lyon and Wolfsburg was the first since the launch of Time for Action. Despite football's temporary shutdown, UEFA is well on track to achieving the key objectives and indicators measuring progress against each of the strategy's goals.
As highlighted in a first-year progress report, more women and girls are playing football at all levels, positive perceptions of the female game continue to rise and the economic value of elite women's competitions is higher than ever.
"Together with our stakeholders and partners, we can be proud of how we have progressed in the first year of the strategy," said Nadine Kessler, UEFA's chief of women’s football.
"Women's football has already evolved into a strong position and has always been resilient. While the challenge is greater, it's not insurmountable. There is so much more to look forward to."
"These are impressive results, but we will be working harder than ever, both to sustain our first-year progress and to overcome any challenges created by the ongoing circumstances," said Čeferin.