Celebrating 15 years of UEFA's landmark solidarity programme

Since 2004, UEFA's innovative HatTrick assistance programme has significantly influenced the football landscape in the countries of UEFA's 55 member associations.

Apart from funding infrastructure, the HatTrick programme also assists grassroots football development and education, as it did here in Iceland
Apart from funding infrastructure, the HatTrick programme also assists grassroots football development and education, as it did here in Iceland ©UEFA.com

Everyone who loves football knows that EURO 2020 is less than a year away and that, for the first time in the history of the European Football Championship, the final tournament is taking place in 12 host cities across the length and breadth of Europe. What many will not be aware of, however, is that EURO 2020 will channel €775.5 million into the UEFA HatTrick programme.

HatTrick began in 2004, based on the simple idea of taking an ample proportion of European Championship revenue and reinvesting it back into football development in three (hence the name of the programme) different ways: investment, education and knowledge sharing. By 2024, the HatTrick programme will have made available a remarkable €2.6 billion in support of its member associations.

What has HatTrick done for football?

A pitch should never be far away from anyone who wants to play the game and, during the past 15 years, HatTrick has significantly influenced the football landscape in the countries of UEFA’s 55 member associations. It has bonded UEFA with its member associations in a mutual and long-term vision for football. It has put many more boots on feet, no matter the ability, age or gender. It has brought communities closer together, kindled new friendships, and kept people healthy and happy through the natural magic of football.

The Lilleküla Stadium in the Estonian capital Tallinn was renovated with funding from the HatTrick programme
The Lilleküla Stadium in the Estonian capital Tallinn was renovated with funding from the HatTrick programme©UEFA.com

In terms of bricks and mortar, HatTrick has helped to build 34 out of 55 national team training centres and 31 headquarter offices among the UEFA member associations. This essential infrastructure is where football happens and develops, not only at elite level but in many other key areas such as grassroots, education, technical training, coaching, refereeing and, just as important, the day-to-day operations and governance of football.

Up to 60% of the current national stadiums in Europe had a helping hand from HatTrick, either in their basic construction or renovation works to modernise them and ensure the safety of players and spectators. HatTrick has also helped to build over 3,000 mini-pitches.

Moreover, these investments have triggered a snowball effect, with statistics showing that for every euro invested by HatTrick, other bodies such as national associations, clubs, local authorities and government bodies invest €3.5 of their own. This shared financing is how football really grows, expanding through new relationships, innovation and solidarity in sport.

But HatTrick digs deeper than the obvious need for infrastructure. Sometimes, a spotlight needs to shine on aspects of football that can fall behind or exist only in the shadows of the elite game. For example, in 2010 women’s football had reached a crossroads and a new and stronger future had to be defined for it. Funded by HatTrick, the UEFA Women’s Football Development Programme was launched as the potential solution and, since then, women’s football has exploded. Over 450 projects have now been funded to the tune of €82.2 million across all 55 UEFA member associations, over half of them supporting grassroots football for girls and women.

A similar story exists for grassroots in general. All UEFA member associations have signed the UEFA Grassroots Charter, which aims to drive development consistently at the base level. The charter now goes under the polished theme of GREAT, which stands for Growth, Retention, Education, Always fair and Terms.

Financial evolution of the UEFA HatTrick programme
Financial evolution of the UEFA HatTrick programme©UEFA.com

Another example is the football and social responsibility programme which was rolled out under HatTrick in 2016. So far, more than 80 social and environmental projects have been funded. Club licensing is another success story under the HatTrick umbrella. Currently 53 out of the 55 UEFA member associations have implemented this important UEFA system, and 38 have gone on to develop their own domestic system.

HatTrick V will run from 2020 to 2024. To ensure momentum and continued growth, it will provide each UEFA member association with €4.5 million for investment as well as the following annual incentive payments:

  • Runnings costs: €800,000
  • Participation in youth, women’s, futsal and amateur competitions: €250,000
  • UEFA club licensing system: €250,000
  • Good governance: €200,000
  • UEFA Grassroots Charter: €200,000
  • Women’s football development: €150,000
  • Coaching Convention: €100,000
  • Refereeing Convention: €100,000
  • Elite youth player development: €100,000
  • Football and social responsibility: €100,000
  • National teams’ participation: €100,000
  • Anti-match-fixing and integrity: €50,000

HatTrick is one of the largest sports solidarity programmes in the world and it is a great source of pride and success for UEFA.

In 15 years, it has tackled big development needs and sought out the hidden parts of football that need special care and attention. It is hard to know how many millions of people have been touched by HatTrick, but the real point is to keep working and developing football because a smile is the same in every language. Happy 15th birthday, HatTrick.

This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 185

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