EURO 2020 may have been postponed by 12 months, but that did not prevent UEFA from committing vital funding from the competition to support the wider game.
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When UEFA announced the postponement of EURO 2020 by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was uncertainty across Europe as to the future of the game and the potential economic impact.
This is because revenue from EURO tournaments help sustain football across the continent, through annual payments from the UEFA HatTrick programme to European football's 55 member national associations.
With no EURO and no funding, how would associations be able to help the game return to action at home, or maintain their various development programmes?
That is why UEFA acted quickly to reassure members that it would not only honour its HatTrick commitments, which amount to €775.5 million over the next four years, but also bring some payments forward to allow associations to tackle the challenges of the pandemic.
UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin
"The UEFA HatTrick programme is a vital component of European football and its importance has never been clearer to see than during the COVID-19 crisis.
"By lifting the conditions to release HatTrick funds to our associations, we have been able to limit the economic impact of the pandemic."
To better understand how this happened, we explain the key details below, as well as highlighting three ways associations are using the funding to keep football on the front foot.
How EURO and HatTrick sustain European football
Since 2004, revenue from UEFA EURO competitions have been channeled back into developing the game across Europe via HatTrick, one of the largest solidarity initiatives in sport.
Each year, the programme distributes more than €190 million to UEFA's national associations, and by 2024, a total €2.6 billion will have been reinvested from EURO tournaments back into the game.
This important financial support allows associations to implement a wide range of activities that help protect, promote and develop football at all levels, in three key areas.
1. increased investment funding
2. improved education
3. knowledge sharing
From COVID crisis to community comfort
When, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UEFA announced the postponement of EURO 2020 by 12 months and the suspension of European club competitions, which also put money back into the game, there were concerns at how this would impact the future of football in Europe.
That is why UEFA moved quickly to confirm its commitment to the next four-year HatTrick cycle – which equates to €775.5 million from 2020 to 2024.
Not only that, we also released €236.5 million early to ensure associations were financially equipped to deal with the pandemic’s economic fallout, allowing them to identify for themselves how best to invest these payments to protect the game.
With this reassurance, and with a spirit of collaboration and solidarity, the European football community has grown stronger through this period, working together to get the game back on its feet.
"I’m very proud of the unity that we showed - I’m very proud of the whole ecosystem of European football," said Mr Čeferin.
"You can call it trust, you can call it unity, you can call it solidarity. We worked all together, we trusted each other. UEFA the governing body, the leagues, clubs and of course our national associations. So, if anything optimistic came out of this crisis, it's trust."
How did associations benefit from the funding?
We look at three national associations, all involved at EURO 2020, representing different sizes and locations, to show how they have invested HatTrick funds to protect and develop their national game.
Finland: The Football Association of Finland reserved €1.5 million to compensate 50 professional clubs for match revenue losses.
France: In June 2020, the French Football Federation (FFF) created an extraordinary solidarity fund, valued at approximately €20 million, to help restart the national game and to support the nation’s 14,182 amateur clubs hit financially by football’s shutdown. Under the fund’s conditions, every affiliated amateur club was entitled to €10 for each registered player, with the FFF investing €7 and the leagues and districts covering the remainder. More than two million registered players benefited.
Romania: The Romania Football Federation invited 221 clubs to apply for up to €5,000 in funding to invest in the protection of everyone involved in playing and running football. The grants were used for the procurement of personal protective equipment and technology to store digitally registered temperatures, both critical for clubs to return to play while complying with health measures.