UEFA's crucial support to its 53 member national associations continues to accelerate thanks to the European body's ambitious HatTrick programme, which is now well into its second four-year cycle.
Commitment to associations
At its latest meeting – the last committee meeting to be chaired by former UEFA vice-president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder – the HatTrick Committee approved all 38 projects submitted, amounting to a total of almost €30m. This means that 60 per cent of the funds for the HatTrick II Investment Programme (involving a one-off contribution of up to €2.5m to each association) between 2008 and 2012 are now committed to the associations.
UEFA's view is that revenue from major competitions should be put back into the sport. The HatTrick project was launched at the end of 2003 and was funded by income from the UEFA EURO 2004™ finals in Portugal. As a result of that tournament's success, the original HatTrick budget of just over CHF 400m (€250m) has since been increased to almost CHF 500m. The HatTrick scheme's second phase continues until 2012, funded by revenue from last year's spectacularly successful UEFA EURO 2008™ tournament in Austria and Switzerland.
The HatTrick scheme's second phase (2008-2012) involves financial assistance – including the one-off contribution of up to €2.5m to each association – and annual solidarity payments of up to €1.3m. Under a four-year investment plan, national associations can ask for financial assistance to improve infrastructures in areas such as stadium construction, training centre construction/renovation, association HQs and grassroots/social projects.
The projects approved at the latest HatTrick Committee session were mainly to contribute towards national training centres, artificial pitch construction, grass pitches and stadium renovation. There were a number of impressive projects, including IT ones such as that of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), which is putting in place a medical plan that will ensure regular check-ups for more than 250,000 players from the different regions and islands, as well as coaches, via an intranet programme developed by the EPO. UEFA will contribute 7.3 per cent of this project (€1m). Other funds will come from the clubs themselves and the Greek association.
With the UEFA European Women's Championship approaching in Finland this summer, the Football Association of Finland is building mini-pitches in the cities – Helsinki, Lahti, Tampere and Turku – hosting the tournament to help boost the football atmosphere around the event. UEFA will fund 50 per cent of this project.
In Georgia, the Grassroots project aims to make football accessible to children in various ways. Support is being given to 27 football schools; to a school football tournament featuring 2,000 state schools – 80 per cent of schools in Georgia; and to the Tbilisi Football Festival held in the Lokomotiv stadium in co-operation with the regional football association. UEFA's grassroots concerns will see the European body funding 74 per cent of this project.
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