When Giorgio Chiellini lifted the Henri Delaunay Cup last Sunday night at London’s Wembley Stadium, it marked the end of an unforgettable UEFA EURO 2020.
The tournament had offered its global audience moments of sheer excitement, despair, passion and elation, and was the first major international sporting event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But did you know about the work that the EURO 2020 teams have undertaken to develop football outside Europe? Thanks to the UEFA Assist programme, 20 of the 24 participating associations have been able to share their knowledge, best practices and solidarity with UEFA’s sister confederations and their member associations around the world.
Below, we look at how those countries that competed in the EURO are helping to grow the game across the globe.
UEFA Assist: putting football first around the world
UEFA launched Assist, a football development programme, in 2017. Its objective: to share the experience and know-how of UEFA and its member associations beyond Europe.
By working closely with UEFA’s five sister confederations and FIFA, Assist has built on existing collaborations with the AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North and Central America), CONMEBOL (South America) and the OFC (New Zealand and South Pacific island nations).
So far, Assist has channelled UEFA support to more than 200 football development projects in close to 60 countries worldwide. Initiatives focus on four main goals:
• Building capacity
• Developing youth football
• Strengthening infrastructure
• Supporting UEFA member associations to create their own solidarity programmes
EURO 2020: How the teams are making a global difference
The Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) has shared knowledge and best practices with the Tongan Football Association and donated sports equipment to aid football development in primary schools.
The Royal Belgian Football Association’s (RBFA) ongoing work with the Chinese FA has helped the latter implement a sports psychology course for elite players and share best practices and knowledge in coach education.
The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has donated pitch maintenance equipment in Uganda as part of its work to help develop the game there locally.
In Grenada, the Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) has helped the national association develop its strategy and revise internal regulations, in addition to donating referee and physio equipment, training balls and benches.
The Danish Football Association (DBU) has donated balls, bibs, boots and water bottles to aid the growth and development of the women’s league in Guyana. Future plans involve coach and referee education, plus knowledge-sharing on social responsibility and the health benefits of playing regular football.
The Football Association (FA) has given funds for the purchase of equipment to promote girls’ football in Ghana and is also donating equipment to facilitate grassroots development and coach education programmes in Lesotho.
The French Football Federation (FFF) has donated grassroots equipment on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin as part of the recovery effort following Hurricane Irma. It has also worked with the Chinese FA to share best practices in coaching and will donate communication kits for referees to help nurture the game in Costa Rica.
The German Football Association (DFB) has created online education courses (International Instructors Course and Future Leaders in Football) that will support its partner associations outside Europe. It will also send football equipment to Botswana, Jordan and Namibia.
The Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) has organised a 12-day training camp for Mongolia’s A team, while also helping Liberia improve its medical provisions with the donation of stretchers and defibrillators.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has welcomed the Qatar Under-16 team for friendlies, and shared best practice and knowledge with the Qataris on technical development and nutrition.
The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) has focused on coach development. It has held women’s football coaching courses in the Caribbean, welcoming participants from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, as well as an international advanced coaching course with visitors from nine countries (Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, Syria and Tunisia).
The Portuguese Football Federation’s (FPF) work has centred on Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, completing social training programmes in Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé.
The Football Union of Russia (FUR) has used the popularity of futsal in the region to direct its Assist funding towards organising a grassroots indoor tournament in which teams from Mongolia and the Kyrgyz Republic took part.
The Scottish FA has donated equipment to the Bahamas FA following hurricane devastation in the country, helping rebuild efforts and ensuring the game can continue to thrive on the islands.
The Slovak Football Association (SFZ) helped fund the repairs of pitches and floodlights in the US Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma, also working in Botswana to purchase portacabins for changing rooms and host a training camp for the country’s women’s national team.
In Honduras, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) will this month organise coach education and capacity-building courses, donating IT and football equipment to benefit the national football association.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) has donated spectator seating for beach soccer pitches, and is working to share expertise and best practices through youth coach education programmes.
The Swiss Football Association (ASF-SFV) has helped renovate floodlighting in Puerto Rico following hurricane damage.
The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) invited South Korea’s Under-16 national team to participate in the Aegean Cup tournament, providing elite youth players from both nations with valuable experience of facing international opposition.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) has delivered coach education and football development programmes for Welsh coaches based across the United States.