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UEFA Walking Football Cup – pilot edition 2024


UEFA tries its hand at walking football.

The four team captains of the UEFA Walking Football Cup 2024 pilot edition
The four team captains of the UEFA Walking Football Cup 2024 pilot edition UEFA via Getty Images

As part of our ambition to mobilise the football community to promote healthy and active lifestyles and widen the engagement of players across all age groups, particularly older adults, we piloted our first-ever walking football event at UEFA HQ this week, the UEFA Walking Football Cup.

This inaugural event brought together four teams composed of adults aged 52 to 80 from England, Gibraltar, Portugal and Sweden to connect, share and test various adaptations to the Laws of the Game.

This initiative is part of a broader inclusion programme called FootbALL, which aims to harness football as a catalyst to foster positive change in society, with a simple yet significant message: In football, everyone is welcome.

What is walking football?

Walking football is a version of the sport whose rules have been modified to promote health and safety. Rules such as no running, headers or physical contact, indirect free-kicks and ball height restrictions have been adopted to ensure the safety of older players. This adaptation makes it an ideal, moderate-impact physical activity for people of all ages and fitness levels.

What are the objectives of this pilot?

While different rules are being applied across Europe, this event served as a platform to test different approaches – size of the ball, size of the goal, touchline restarts, number of touches, sanctions for technical offences – in a practical setting and engage in insightful discussions about their implications and effectiveness.

"The games went well. The five-touch rule is a really positive way to play! It keeps the game a bit slower and fetches everybody into the game, a lot more passes. Good fun!”

Mick Hill, England’s captain

“If you’re thinking about walking football, I'd say: take the chance! It's good for your body and for your head”

Marita Elheim, Sweden’s captain

This pilot is the result of the UEFA walking football working group’s efforts since October 2022 to provide national associations, clubs and local organisations with recommendations on how to develop a safe and enjoyable framework for walking football and contribute to its continuous evolution.

“The UEFA Walking Football Cup aligns perfectly with our Football Sustainability Strategy 2030, emphasising the importance of promoting health, well-being, and inclusivity. Walking football offers a unique opportunity to engage older adults in physical activity, fostering community spirit and demonstrating that football truly is for everyone. This pilot event lays the foundations for a more active and connected football community across Europe.”

Michele Uva, UEFA’s director of social and environmental sustainability

Looking ahead

UEFA via Getty Images

Beyond the matches, participants, coaches, referees, doctors, team representatives and organisers shared insights on how the game can be adapted to better serve older adults, focusing on the health benefits, the potential for social connection and the joy of staying active. These discussions will feed into a forthcoming document, to be published this summer, guiding stakeholders on how to create their own recreational walking football programmes.

This initiative aims to advocate walking football as a flexible and inclusive option. The goal is to encourage a sense of community, physical and mental health and flexibility, and hopefully pave the way for walking football to inspire all individuals to stay active through football, regardless of age or physical ability.

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