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World Cup success prompts more UEFA funding for women's football

By Andy Knaggs    04 Jul 2019
England's Lionesses progressed to the semi-finals before losing a tight match to the USA / Getty, via UEFA.com
It is UEFA's duty as European governing body to empower the women's game
– Aleksander Čeferin

With the plaudits rolling in for the quality of football at the FIFA Women's World Cup, European governing body UEFA has announced increased funding for national associations within Europe, through its UEFA Women's Football Development Programme (WFDP).

From 2020, the 55 member associations will receive €150,000 (US$169,000, £134,000) every year specifically for growing the women's game. This is a 50 per cent increase on the previous payments of €100,000 (US$113,000, £90,000) per year.

European nations have fared well at the World Cup, making up seven of the eight quarter finalists. The Netherlands is to meet the USA in the final in Lyon, France, on Sunday 7 July, while England and Sweden contest the third place play-off in Nice the day before.

Alongside this increased funding, UEFA has released more details of where funding in the women's game in Europe is being spent, and in May it launched its first ever women's football strategy: Time for Action: UEFA Women's Football Strategy 2019-24.

The latter aims to double the number of women and girls playing football in UEFA member associations to 2.5 million, double female representation on all UEFA bodies, increase the reach and value of its Women's Euro and Women's Champions League competitions, and improve player standards by reaching standard agreements for national team players and putting safeguarding policies in place in all 55 member associations.

UEFA's HatTrick funding cycle uses revenues from the UEFA European Championship. It was launched in 2004 and by 2020 will have invested €1.8bn (US$2.03bn, £1.62bn) back into the game, including grassroots football, women's football and elite youth player development.

The WFDP has funded 459 applications to the tune of €82.2m (US$92.8m, £73.78m) across the UEFA associations, with more than 50 per cent of these being centred on grassroots projects, creating opportunities for girls and women to play football. Some €12m (US$13.54m, £10.77m) has been invested in 94 club and league development projects, and €13.5m (US$15.24m, £12.12m) of funding has helped national associations to enhance their elite youth pathways, coaching and development, resulting in higher standards at the top of the women's game.

"It's just great to see that football has become a more natural choice for girls – which means we are on the right track of changing perceptions around the world – and that efforts to make the sport more accessible are paying off," said Nadine Kessler, UEFA head of women's football.

The support for the women's game in Europe comes right from the top of the organisation too. "Women's football is the football of today; it is not the football of tomorrow," said UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin. "It is UEFA's duty as European governing body to empower the women's game."

European nations have performed strongly at the current Women's World Cup / Shutterstock
FIFA Women's World Cup  UEFA  UEFA Women's Football Development Programme  WFDP  Time for Action: UEFA Women's Football Strategy 2019-24 
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