The Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA) was founded in Basel, Switzerland, on 15 June 1954, bringing to fruition the pioneering vision of a handful of key football administrators of the time.
Since then, the parent body of European football – one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA – has grown into the cornerstone of the game on this continent, working with and acting on behalf of Europe's national football associations and other stakeholders in the game to promote football and strengthen its position as the world's most popular sport.
The guiding principle of the initiators in the early 1950s was the fostering and development of unity and solidarity among the European football community. Now, six decades later, UEFA's mission remains very much the same. But it has also become the guardian of football in Europe by working closely with its 54 member associations to promote, protect and nurture the sport at all levels, from the elite and its stars to the millions who play the game as a hobby.
In 1960, UEFA had a full-time staff of just three people. That figure has risen steadily through the years as the organisation has reacted to changing circumstances. Today, over 400 people of 38 different nationalities (as of February 2014) – administrators, secretaries, lawyers, IT and media specialists, coaches, translators – are employed at UEFA's administrative headquarters located in the town of Nyon, on the shores of Lake Geneva in western Switzerland. The body has resided in Nyon since 1995 after beginning its life in Paris, before moving to the Swiss federal capital Berne, where UEFA stayed for over three decades from 1960.
Over the decades, UEFA has developed from a mainly administrative body into a dynamic sports organisation that is in tune with the vast requirements of modern-day football. UEFA is a sporting authority which does not have the powers of a government; it represents Europe's national football associations, and can only act in accordance with the wishes of these associations.
When UEFA was founded, the body comprised 31 national associations. The number of member associations rose gradually until the beginning of the 1990s, when political developments in eastern Europe and the fragmentation of the USSR led to a rapid growth in the number of new nation states, each with its own football association. Consequently, there are now 54 associations under UEFA's wing.
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