On 20 November each year, we celebrate World Children’s Day to advocate, promote and celebrate children's rights.
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Through our work with grassroots football, children's NGOs and the UEFA Foundation, UEFA is committed to using the power of football to improve children’s welfare, safety and personal development.
We honour this pledge every day by providing safe and equal football opportunities to children, through which they can grow up peacefully and blossom while playing the beautiful game.
A safe environment to play
Child and youth protection is an integral part of UEFA’s Football Sustainability Strategy ‘Strength through Unity’. Under this policy, UEFA focuses on protecting the rights of children and youth playing football, preventing and responding to any form of harm. It is also an essential criterion for the UEFA Playmakers programme and a mandatory standard to obtain the UEFA club licence and the UEFA C licence for grassroots coaches. Moreover, national associations implementing child safeguarding measures are eligible to receive financial support from the UEFA HatTrick programme.
As part of the efforts towards providing a safe and empowering environment for all children and youth in football, UEFA partners with Terre des hommes, the leading Swiss organisation for children’s aid. Combining Terre des hommes’ expertise in child protection and UEFA's knowledge of football, we work together to develop safeguarding tools which raise awareness, educate and train adults participating in football activities with children. The training and toolkits provide preventive and responsive tools to tackle children’s harm or abuse and work towards a safe and positive football environment for all.
The first UEFA Child and Youth Protection Summit took place earlier this week on 17-18 November in Tubize (Belgium), at the Royal Belgian Football Association's (RBFA) new headquarters. 49 UEFA member association’s child and youth protection officers shared insights, learnt about each other’s successes and challenges, and heard from experts about the latest developments and statistics in child and youth protection in sports, particularly in football.
Developing grassroots activities
Our mission is to foster football as a vehicle for children’s educational, social and sporting development, from their first introduction to football to the elite levels of our sport. We encourage children to take up the game through grassroots initiatives such as Football in Schools or UEFA Playmakers. We also make sure that children are being well taken care of by their coach, with a dedicated coaching licence.
From 2020 to 2024, UEFA is investing €44 million into grassroots football development, 25% of this figure being dedicated to our partnerships with schools around Europe. We firmly believe that they are the ideal partners to give children equal opportunities to play in a safe environment and that we can act as a bridge between them and local clubs to encourage young pupils to play and to have better trained teachers.
Supporting the game in Europe and around the world
The UEFA Foundation for Children supports projects that help children and protect their rights all over the world, with a focus on health and education, promoting access to sport, facilitating personal development and fostering the integration of minorities. Since 2015, a total of €41 million has been distributed across 412 projects, with an extra €4.9 million to be invested in 65 new projects in 2023.
In the last year, the UEFA Foundation has helped to fund 133 ongoing projects, benefitting 624,377 children over five continents. Sixteen stadiums have been built or renovated, more than 16,000 balls distributed and two tonnes of emergency aid shipped to Ukraine.
This season, the Foundation supported clubs competing in the UEFA Europa League (SC Braga, Malmö FF, Union Saint-Gilloise and 1.FC Union Berlin), who launched a solidarity initiative to assist underprivileged and refugee children living in Turkey. Throughout the group stage, several tonnes of sports equipment was collected by the four clubs and will be delivered to a project supported by the UEFA Foundation in Turkey, implemented by the Bonyan Organization.
Our commitment to UEFA's local community
At a local level, we ensure children in Switzerland can take part in our competitions and activities at the heart of European football. With many youth competitions taking place at UEFA HQ in Nyon, we make sure that local schoolchildren receive complimentary tickets to attend games, act as player mascots or visit our offices. UEFA also funds local sporting bodies to provide access to sport for all.
On 10 November, UEFA took part in a special “Discover your parent’s job” day organised by the canton of Vaud. Local children discovered what working in football means, spending the day following their parents’ steps and learning about the organisation. The UEFA Foundation also invited kids from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to meet virtually with staff’s children so each could learn what life looks like for their counterparts on the other side of the world.