UEFA's stadium team covers a wide variety of areas, including the ground, the pitch and supporting technological innovations.
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When it comes to stadium renovations or newly designed stadium projects, UEFA provides free of charge consultancy to clubs, national associations and stadium developers (i.e. architects, engineers) to avoid developing projects out of scope and/or with the risk of not meeting UEFA's requirements and expectations.
One of UEFA's key roles is to inspect stadiums before they host matches in European competitions. The inspection is used to assess the stadium physical conditions, health and safety set-up and security facilities and measures that are normally put in place to ensure that a match takes place smoothly. In addition, the stadium facilities are verified, and the stadium management must give details of emergency contingency requirements.
Normally UEFA visits stadiums when a national association has announced its use for any future competition. The overall process actually starts with a meeting at UEFA during the design phase, to allow the presentation of the stadium concept. Feedback is provided by UEFA's units; this prevents the building of a stadium which is non-compliant, which would be discovered at the stadium inspection and result in additional work having to be carried out.
Criteria include whether a stadium is brand new or has undergone recent major renovation, or has not been used in a UEFA competition for three successive years. The inspection covers several main facets, focusing mainly on players and officials' facilities, spectator-related areas, TV and media facilities.
HatTrick is funded by revenue from the UEFA European Football Championship, and provides financial support to the UEFA member associations in order to develop and foster football at all levels. The HatTrick programme has been built around three pillars: investment funding, knowledge-sharing and education and has helped fund a large number of football infrastructures, including safe and modern stadiums.
UEFA works with associated partner CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe) to ensure that many more disabled supporters can attend live matches. CAFE works alongside UEFA advising on improved facilities and services.
Significant improvements have included:
- Additional wheelchair user spaces and easy access seating for disabled supporters
- Audio descriptive commentaries for partially sighted and blind supporters
- Accessible (disabled) toilets and refreshment areas
- Disability access officers at each match
- Accessible (disabled) transport and taxi drop-off point
- The UEFA and CAFE Good Practice Guide to Creating an Accessible Stadium and Matchday Experience - Access For All
UEFA Stadium Infrastructure Regulations, Edition 2018
UEFA Safety & Security Regulations, Edition 2019
UEFA Stadium Lighting Guide, Edition 2016 UEFA Guide to Quality Stadiums
Access for all (UEFA and CAFE good practice guide to creating an accessible stadium and matchday experience)
Colour blindness in Football FA/UEFA guidance booklet
Monitoring and Support
UEFA operates various pitch support programmes for its highest profile club and National team competitions. Mandating the world's leading industry experts in the field of groundsmanship and agronomy, UEFA seeks to maintain awareness of pitch conditions in the build-up to matches by observing domestic fixtures and gathering pitch data in a number of ways including questionnaires, risk assessments and through pitch testing and assessment. This information is used to provide advice and support to clubs, National Associations and LOCs when it comes to devising specific maintenance and renovation plans to ensure playing conditions are optimal from a player safety, playability and an aesthetic perspective.
Pitch Education Programme
UEFA believes that education and the sharing of best practice between industry stakeholders is of crucial importance when attempting to improve the standard of pitch conditions across Europe. To this end, UEFA has produced a number of materials, including the Pitch Quality Guidelines to provide its members with advice when it comes to pitch construction, renovation and maintenance. Video tutorials have been created focusing on the role of the groundsman, giving specific advice regarding matchday preparations and specific maintenance practices such as pitch cutting and aeration. Other best practice documents will be published in 2019 including the UEFA best practice guide to training centre construction and management.
Football Technology Innovation
Goal-Line Technology (GLT)
UEFA centrally manages the installation and operation of Goal-Line Technology (GLT) in the UEFA Champions League (from the play-off rounds onwards) and the UEFA Europa League (from the group stage). UEFA's Goal Decision suppliers are Hawk-Eye Innovations who are the leading company in this field, providing GLT services to a number of top flight leagues in Europe using a camera-based tracking system. Should clubs or national associations have existing GLT installations that are certified by FIFA installed in their venues for other fixtures such as club competition qualifying rounds or European Qualifiers and UEFA Nations League group stage fixtures, then UEFA accepts the use of such systems upon confirmation that both teams are in agreement to its use. UEFA also centrally manages the use of GLT in its finals tournaments, such as the UEFA Nations League finals and UEFA EURO 2020.
VAR was introduced in the UEFA Champions League from the 2018/19 round of 16 following successful technological testing and the training of referees over the preceding few months. The system, incorporated into the Laws of the Game in 2019, sees a video assistant referee review decisions made by the referee in certain key match situations with the use of video footage and a headset for communication.
Under the system, a VAR team – a video assistant referee (VAR), an assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) and two replay operators (ROs) – are located at each stadium to support the referee and help the match official take correct decisions. The VAR team constantly checks for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations: Goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity.
Training centres are increasingly at the heart of national association and club strategy, acting as vital resources in planning the vision and delivering the long-term goals of the organisation. A top-quality training facility is critical to the realisation of these goals on the field – whether the aim is to provide top-class facilities for elite professionals to train, or to develop the next generation of young players.
In order to support its members, UEFA has created a guideline document that can act as a step-by-step guide to training centre design, construction and management. It sets out the key concepts to consider when planning the development of such a facility from a sporting and operational perspective. Everything that UEFA can do to encourage and assist in the development of top-class training facilities will be of great benefit to football, as well as to local communities.