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Talking Football: Anne Rei on the women's game

About UEFA Womens football

The chair of UEFA's Women's Football Committee assesses the impact of Time for Action, the 2019–24 UEFA women’s football strategy – and considers where the sport should go next.

UEFA via Getty Images

Since 2019, Time for Action, our five-year strategy for women’s football, has reshaped the sport since its launch in May 2019. This process is set to continue under a new women’s football strategy launching in 2024. Anne Rei, who chairs the UEFA Women’s Football Committee, assesses the impact of Time for Action, looks ahead to the new strategy, and with UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 around the corner, previews what might be coming next for women’s football in Europe.

How has Time for Action, UEFA’s women’s football strategy, helped to drive development of the European game?

Anne Rei: UEFA’s women’s football strategy has transformed words into actions. The strategy has given direction to the whole of European football – to national associations, to clubs, to all stakeholders. Together, strategy development programmes, additional finances, transformed competitions and UEFA’s insights and initiatives have had a profound impact on the progress of the women’s game throughout the continent.

Is UEFA on track to achieve the strategic priorities set in 2019?

UEFA has made big strides in regard to our five key goals. The investments and changes to the UEFA Women’s Champions League and the UEFA Women’s EURO, plus a highly successful commercial programme, have meant that we have exceeded our expectations in terms of doubling the reach and value of these flagship competitions. This has also gone a long way to changing perceptions.

Increases in the number of registered players, and the introduction of the UEFA Playmakers programme for girls aged 5–8 and UEFA Football in Schools means there are now around three million women and girls playing football, more than doubling our target. And we have been working hard on improving the standards for those players. From a governance perspective, almost 20% of our committee members are now female.

This has only been possible due to the investment in key initiatives. We now have 47 associations with a women’s football strategy, demonstrating that it’s a priority across Europe – but there is still work to do and we cannot afford to rest.

Watch: UEFA Playmakers

"We need to ensure that we all move forward together and that we make the right decisions for the long-term development of the game."

Anne Rei

The game-changing UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 set new standards for the women’s game. Can the next edition in Switzerland match or even surpass those achievements?

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 was a resounding success. Huge momentum was created, the bar was raised to new heights and new expectations emerged. We are seeing that national associations have capitalised on that success and that the potential of the women’s game is limitless. The vision for the 2025 edition is to organise the most watched, most attended and most compelling UEFA Women’s EURO ever.

UEFA is introducing a new women’s football strategy in 2024. What are the key challenges to address?

We need to ensure that we all move forward together and that we make the right decisions for the long-term development of the game. We should look at dedicated support for small and middle-sized national associations to close the gap between nations, putting in place clear pathways for players, coaches and referees, and ensuring access to football for girls in all our communities.

The start of the new women’s football strategy will coincide with a new overarching UEFA strategy. How will the two complement each other?

The processes for the overarching UEFA strategy and that of the women’s football strategy are heavily aligned. The UEFA strategy will set the framework for the women’s football strategy: the vision, values and some key focus areas. This will provide a baseline for the women’s football strategy, which will set key goals, actions and priorities for the game by 2030.

What is your biggest hope for the new strategy?

That together we keep on building on the unique strengths of women’s football and that, when we speak about football in the future, we don’t have to stress that it includes women’s football.

Read Time for Action, the UEFA women’s football strategy for 2019–24 – and look out for the launch of UEFA’s new women’s football strategy in 2024.