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Defending European football's future – Aleksander Čeferin

The UEFA President reviews a year in which UEFA and football stakeholders have united in a concerted drive to safeguard the game's well-being.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin UEFA via Getty Images

2022 has been another eventful year for UEFA. Together with the European football community, we have striven tirelessly to protect and promote the core values of the sports model that lies at the heart of our game.

First and foremost, that includes open competitions based on sporting merit, financial solidarity between the top and bottom of football’s pyramid structure and recognition of the game’s wider role in society.

No European tournament conveyed these values more in 2022 than the UEFA Women’s EURO – a vibrant family festival that broke records galore. The tournament raised the bar for women’s football for competitiveness, visibility and value, as well as capturing the imagination of host nation England and the rest of Europe.

Cumulatively, more fans than ever attended matches. One in six travelled from abroad. It also demonstrated our sport’s enormous capacity for catalysing positive social change – 48% of ticket holders were female, with 30% of them younger than 30.

Reinvesting revenue generated by our elite competitions back into the game has laid the foundations for the growth of both women’s and men’s football.

At our 2022 Congress in Vienna, we announced the expansion of our HatTrick development programme, which channels proceeds from the men’s EUROs to projects in all 55 of our member associations. From 2024 to 2028, HatTrick funding will increase by 21%, reinforcing the initiatives that will see football on our continent grow from strength to strength.

UEFA’s social heart has beaten with a firm rhythm this year. By using football’s phenomenal popularity and influence, we have raised awareness of human rights, environmental and social issues, contributed to the fight against climate change, led campaigns against discrimination, run programmes to foster diversity and inclusion, and promoted healthy lifestyles for young and old.

Of course, none of these achievements would be possible without the club and national team competitions that drive our mission, providing the vital link between professional and grassroots football.

Together, they demonstrate the importance of open competitions, where qualification is based on sporting merit and everyone, regardless of age or ability, can dream of playing at the highest level.

In closing, I would like to extend my personal thanks to everyone who has stood together with UEFA to defend the European sports model. Your support will inspire us in 2023, as we redouble our efforts to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for football in Europe.