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European women's football is driving forward at a rapid pace on and off the field – and this progress has prompted a call for greater participation by women in the European football decision-making process. Consequently, a new project – the UEFA Women in Football Leadership Programme (WFLP) – has been launched.
UEFA is responding to feedback from its member associations. As a result, the European governing body is establishing a specific leadership programme for women involved in the European national associations.
More women are now in leadership roles in the game. At the highest European level, Karen Espelund (Norway) is chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee. Nevertheless, figures still show that very few women occupy national association leadership posts. The aim of the WFLP would be to accelerate a development process within the associations.
"Equality and integration are both essential to the development of the football workforce," says Espelund. "Football has come a long way over the last few years, but there is still an evident lack of women in top-level positions. More needs to be done to change perspectives and increase opportunities.
"The UEFA women's leadership programme, launching later this year, has adopted an innovative approach by locating and developing potential female executives from the 55 member associations and helping them climb up the ladder of promotion."
The WFLP initiative will be aimed at women working in football – not necessarily women working specifically in the women's football sector.
The programme will seek to identify individuals who have the potential to become leaders, with the scheme helping them develop the appropriate skills. Moreover, women already in leadership positions will be offered extra support in their roles.
"UEFA, through its new women's leadership programme, is concentrating on increasing the number of women occupying executive positions in football," says UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis. "This is an important long-term development programme, and will draw on the female expertise of the 55 UEFA member associations to ensure that leadership skills are recognised, nurtured and implemented across the European football family."