The minutiae of the European Qualifiers – from accreditation through flash interviews and press conferences to the Week of Football – were discussed and dissected by UEFA's 54 member national associations over two days at a media and communications workshop at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Organised by UEFA's Knowledge & Information Sharing Scenario (KISS), which aims to enhance knowledge and expertise throughout all associations, the home of AFC Ajax proved the perfect setting for a series of plenary and practical sessions on all aspects of the forthcoming qualifying campaign.
More than 75 communications experts from around the associations were joined by representatives from FIFA and three other confederations – AFC, CAF and CONCACAF – for an opening morning, on Thursday, which focused on the European Qualifiers concept, including the effects of the centralisation of media rights, its regulatory framework and how matches will now be managed.
Delegates were then divided into five groups and attended a series of modules intended to increase their understanding of television and media facilities, pre and post-match operations, information sharing and servicing the media most efficiently.
A session by members of the UEFA communications team concentrated on the creation and sharing of content, the continuation of the No to Racism campaign and how the European Qualifiers will be covered across UEFA's digital platforms. The associations were receptive to the idea of working with UEFA and each other to further publicise the European Qualifiers on social media.
Roland Ospelt, first vice-chairman of the UEFA Media Committee and the general secretary of the Liechtenstein Football Association (LFV), had got the workshop under way with a welcome speech which touched upon "sharing knowledge and experiences".
That was certainly the case as delegates from Croatia, Georgia, Russia and Israel each presented media operations around international football in their country, with the Israeli offering looking specifically at last summer's successful UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
UEFA wants to improve consistency across the football family and to better protect and promote national team football, so the goal of the workshop was to ensure that associations understood the requirements of the European Qualifiers, to identify potential challenges and to offer solutions to overcome them.
With less than a week until the qualifying draw takes place and just over 200 days before the action itself begins, it was reassuring to see a show of hands at the end of two productive days suggesting that that goal had been achieved.
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