The UEFA Executive Committee sought to innovate in 2010/11 – while never losing sight of the need for continuity and dialogue in addressing key themes for the overall benefit of European football. This was the message in the report for 2010/11 presented to the XXXVI Ordinary UEFA Congress in Istanbul on Tuesday.
The committee has negotiated a hectic period and given priority to issues such as financial fair play, the fight against match-fixing and illegal betting, and dialogue and cooperation with the UEFA member associations, the European Union (EU) and major stakeholders in the European game.
Three European national teams finished first, second and third at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. "These outstanding results go to show that, even with our club football full of players from all corners of the world," the report said, "the high quality, long-term work put in by the UEFA member associations has borne fruit, keeping European football in excellent shape and more than able to compete on a global scale."
The Executive Committee added new members in 2010/11, including, by invitation, UEFA Women's Football Committee chairwoman Karen Espelund. "While injecting fresh ideas, these new additions in no way diminished the Executive Committee's commitment to continuity and dialogue, and the 11 key values approved by the 2009 UEFA Congress in Copenhagen," the report explained. "It therefore continued to build on the work begun in previous years in the areas of financial fair play in European club competitions, the fight against corruption and all forms of discrimination, the protection of under-age players, and the organisation of UEFA EURO 2012.
"The Executive Committee also continued to pay close attention to the growth of women's football and the reinforcement of the solidarity principle, both financially and in terms of healthy, close relationships with political authorities, in particular those of the European Union."
The report said that on a political level, the main news in 2010/11 was that all UEFA member associations had agreed to the centralised sale of media rights for senior national team qualifying matches.
The move will first take effect for the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifiers, and, as the report says, "is part of the drive to promote both national team football (...), and solidarity, as it should enable the majority of national associations to make more money from their qualifying matches and to ensure stable revenues from the qualifying phase as revenues will be disconnected from the draw results."
Efforts to combat the evils of corruption and match-fixing were continued, the report stated, "with an intensity befitting of the risks they pose to the credibility of competitions and, by extension, the very existence of football as such. After a call for heightened awareness and the creation of a vast betting fraud detection system (...), the Executive Committee – convinced that this fight could only be successfully fought with the support and cooperation of the public and legal authorities – (...) decided to create a network of integrity officers within the UEFA member associations. There is also a need for close collaboration with other international sports bodies that are already or could find themselves in the same predicament.
"All these preventive measures are accompanied by a very firm, zero tolerance stance towards cheats and those who support them."
The 2011/12 season saw the beginning of implementation of UEFA's financial fair play measures. The benchmarking report published by UEFA in early 2011 again emphasised the urgency of stopping clubs from spending more than they earn. "This was a principle that seemed to have been neglected by too many clubs," the report said. The financial fair play concept has received support from all of football's stakeholders, as well as the European Commission.
Women's football has also been given new impetus during the period under review. "Since moving the UEFA Women's Champions League final to the same week and city as the men's flagship final," the report stressed, "its profile has undeniably been raised, well reflecting the growth of a sport that, although it has not yet taken off everywhere, is extremely popular in many countries, with nearly a million registered players within UEFA's member associations."
Turning to the national associations, the report described how a strategy meeting last autumn with the member association presidents and general secretaries had set the direction on issues such as the international match calendar, the future of all categories of national team competition and non-UEFA supranational competitions.
"All the national associations continued to be represented on UEFA committees," the report said, "providing another stage on which to make their voices heard." The third edition of the UEFA HatTrick assistance programme, due to start in 2012, will bring increased payments to the associations.
The associations continued to benefit too from the UEFA Study Group Scheme, in which technical know-how is exchanged for the overall good of the game. The Executive Committee also continued its support of grassroots football through the UEFA Grassroots Day. Football fans were not overlooked, with UEFA hosting fan representatives for a meeting attended by UEFA President Michel Platini.
With respect to UEFA's relationship with the EU, the European commissioner responsible for sport, Androulla Vassiliou, came to the Executive Committee's first meeting of the year in 2011. "Her visit, which underlined the quality of the relationship between UEFA and the EU, was an opportunity to exchange ideas on topics such as women in football, integration, the centralised sale of media rights and the transfer of minors," the report said. The Communication on Sport published by the European Commission supports the major elements of UEFA's policies, and Michel Platini has held regular meetings with, and given presentations to, the European political institutions and their leaders.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.