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Two years into its second cycle, UEFA's HatTrick assistance programme continues to provide crucial backing to the European body's 53 member national associations – benefiting the well-being of European football as a whole.
Since the UEFA programme was launched in 2003, it has bolstered the national associations in their efforts to improve and upgrade their infrastructural, administrative, managerial and sporting environments.
The scheme has been built on three pillars: investment, education and financial support. The premise is to direct revenue generated by UEFA's major competitions back into the sport and to encourage national associations to upgrade facilities and develop the game. With revenue from UEFA EURO 2004, the first cycle proved a great success – UEFA issuing a budget of just over CHF 400m (€250m) to the original HatTrick programme which ran for four years. This sum was subsequently raised to over €330m and, in light of revenue from UEFA EURO 2008, has been increased by a further 44%.
HatTrick started in 2004 with a one-off contribution of up to €1.66m per association, plus annual solidarity payments which began at €667,000. The four-year plan encouraged national associations to approach UEFA for funding to improve areas such as stadium construction, training centre construction and renovation, building and renovating association headquarters and grassroots or social projects.
The budget for the second four-year cycle (2008-12) has grown to almost €450m. Over the four years of the HatTrick II programme, each national FA is entitled to a maximum €1.3m a year in solidarity payments – €500,000 to cover running costs with a further €800,000 available for UEFA development and incentive schemes. Associations may also receive grants of up to €2.5m from the single investment programme.
At its most recent meeting, the UEFA HatTrick Committee, chaired by UEFA Executive Committee member Allan Hansen from Denmark, heard that a total of 90 projects throughout Europe had so far been approved under the HatTrick II cycle, and that €361,930,727 had been contributed to HatTrick II projects. The most common initiatives are training centres, pitches, academies and social projects, including mini-pitches. An ideal example of a project submitted to the HatTrick Committee has come from the French Football Federation (FFF), which aims to develop youth elite training centres nationwide to attract Under-14 and U15 male footballers and U16-U18 female players. The scheme provides for four centres, and 50% of the funding will come from HatTrick II.
Another key pillar of this fascinating work is the Knowledge & Information Sharing Scenario (KISS) project. This endeavours to bring even more professionalism to the associations in key areas such as television and internet rights, promoting events, media work, security and ticketing. Here, Allan Hansen is enthusiastic about the exchanges that are taking place between associations at workshops and other KISS events, and via the KISS online module that has been set up.
"The KISS programme will be very useful because [Denmark] can tell all associations how we are doing," he told UEFA.com. "For example, Romania can pick what they can use, and we can do the same from Germany, from England. So I think that the KISS programme will be, in my opinion, a key tool and mechanism in the years to come. In the KISS programme you can hear about best practice – in Denmark we can pick what we find useful and they can do the same in Germany, Romania and Azerbaijan and in that way, we can learn from each other."
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