Education first for UEFA Youth League hopefuls

It is not only on the pitch that the UEFA Youth League last four have been learning but off it, where they have heard talks on refereeing and anti-doping.

Players from Shakhtar and Anderlecht at the presentation
Players from Shakhtar and Anderlecht at the presentation ©Getty Images for UEFA

Players and staff taking part at the UEFA Youth League final stage in Nyon, Switzerland, have attended a seminar as part of a broad education programme.

The presentation detailed UEFA's commitment to the UEFA Youth League and the future of the tournament, while elaborating on integrity and the Laws of the Game, with the aid of UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina. Meanwhile, essential anti-doping rules were explained to all four clubs who reached the semi-finals of this, the second edition of the UEFA Youth League.

The UEFA Youth League is growing as a competition and a graphic of a thermometer showing the tournament at the bottom with the UEFA Champions League at the top helped explain how important UEFA's commitment to football at grassroots level is. Only by strengthening the foundations of the game, can the mercury rise to reach the UEFA Champions League – a footballer's ultimate objective at club level.

Chelsea players at Saturday's presentation
Chelsea players at Saturday's presentation©Getty Images for UEFA

Education is one of the UEFA Youth League's pillars and an explanation of the 11 key values of UEFA, headed by 'football first', underlined UEFA's commitment to preserving and promoting the game.

An enlightening presentation by Collina also helped some of the stars of tomorrow better understand the Laws of the Game. "Sometimes a lack of knowledge of the Laws of the Game helps you lose; knowing them helps you win," said the Italian. "As well as being a talented player, knowledge of what a referee does helps you achieve things."

It is also essential that footballers are fully aware of anti-doping legislation, and this was the message UEFA anti-doping and medical coordinator Richard Grisdale conveyed. Football does not have a reputation for doping, and with a continued focus on education and information, particularly but not exclusively at grassroots level, this reputation of a sport loved all over the world should be preserved.

All the teams in the auditorium at UEFA headquarters in Nyon
All the teams in the auditorium at UEFA headquarters in Nyon©Getty Images for UEFA