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How UEFA competitions support the European sports model

UEFA continuously evolves its club and national team competitions to improve standards, but our commitment to the core principles of the European sports model remains a constant.

The new format of the UEFA Women's Champions League has taken the competitiveness of women's club football to a whole new level
The new format of the UEFA Women's Champions League has taken the competitiveness of women's club football to a whole new level Getty Images

Sporting merit

Qualification for all our competitions is based on sporting merit. This means that every player in every European league can dream of playing in our men's and women's competitions – for their club or national team.

In 2021, the addition of the UEFA Europa Conference League to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League brought the possibility of European football to more teams across the continent than ever before. Today, more than 700 clubs participating in the continent's top domestic leagues can aspire to earning a place on the starting grid of our competitions.

Competitiveness

We continuously adjust our competition formats across all age groups to improve competitive balance for the benefit of players and fans.

Far-reaching changes to our men's club competitions from the 2024/25 season will guarantee a higher number of meaningful matches against a wider range of opponents. Increased competitiveness attracts more supporters, boosting revenue that UEFA then distributes to clubs and associations for investment in the game's development.

The UEFA Champions League will take on a new format in 2024/25
The UEFA Champions League will take on a new format in 2024/25Getty Images

For evidence of how a new format can elevate a competition's status, look no further than the revamp of the UEFA Women's Champions League, introduced in 2021/22. Staging matches in Europe's most prestigious stadiums has further boosted interest in the women's game, with club attendance records broken in France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

Since its inception, the UEFA Nations League has provided a platform for more competitive and meaningful national team matches – without adding any fresh dates to the calendar. During 2022/23, it continued to give players at all levels fresh opportunities. Thirty-three national teams have earned at least one promotion, which highlights how they are able to generate momentum via the competition. This, in turn, brings more interest from supporters, media and commercial partners – boosting the resources of national associations as they continue to recover from the financial hit of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Player pathways

UEFA youth competitions provide pathways for talented players aspiring to a professional career to rise up through football's pyramid structure. Both our men's and women's Under-17 and Under-19 Championships for national teams and the Youth League for men's clubs allow promising young players to gain first-hand experience of international tournament football. High-quality matches inspire more youngsters to take up the game.

We also try to ensure that as many young European players as possible have the chance to play in our youth competitions. Every four years, a portion of the funding available to each of our 55 member associations through HatTrick helps to cover the cost of entering our national team youth competitions.

Competitions like the UEFA Youth League give young players more experience of top-level football
Competitions like the UEFA Youth League give young players more experience of top-level footballNewcastle United via Getty Image

Reinvestment

Revenue generated by our elite competitions is channelled into growing the game at every level of football's pyramid structure. Few initiatives embody this principle better than the UEFA HatTrick programme. Since 2004, HatTrick has reinvested a large proportion of UEFA EURO income into development projects run by Europe's national associations that benefit all aspects of the beautiful game: building stadiums and training facilities, growing women's football, running coach and referee courses, nurturing young talent, strengthening governance, tackling discrimination, kick-starting social responsibility initiatives and, above all, giving everyone in Europe the chance to enjoy football.

We apply the same principle to our men's and women's club competitions. Each season, UEFA solidarity payments allocate a percentage of revenue from our top competitions for distribution to non-participating clubs.

It is also a little-known fact that our top competitions fund no fewer than 13 other UEFA competitions, each designed to support the development of men's and women's football: the Women's EURO and Champions League, the European U21 Championship, men's and women's Futsal EUROs, the Futsal Champions League, the Youth League, men's and women's U17 and U19 Championships, the U19 Futsal Championship, and the Regions' Cup.