The advances made in information technology over the last decade have also left their mark on the world of football administration. UEFA is using its own experiences to give valuable assistance to its 52 member associations.
European football's governing body has held an IT workshop at its headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland for representatives of the associations, in which it explained the development of its own systems, and gave several countries the opportunity to highlight their own experiences.
The workshop is one of the ways in which UEFA is helping its member countries as part of its Top Executive Programme, whereby associations and their senior figures will have even stronger ties to UEFA, its services and its expertise. The UEFA national associations division, headed by UEFA director Jacob Erel, has a core mission to offer an access point to all UEFA member associations and support the associations' top executive management.
The aim is to support and nurture the national associations by making UEFA expertise available in the field of organisation and administration. UEFA's HatTrick assistance programme activities also form an essential part of the division's mission, given that one of the objectives of the HatTrick scheme is to help associations undertake their administration work more efficiently and effectively.
The workshop looked at information systems in governing bodies, national associations' systems, building information systems, IT development projects and how to deal with internet matters. "While making analyses for the Top Executive Programme, we found out that in one way or another, national associations need to improve their IT operations, either by upgrading their hardware or promoting software," said Erel. "We also found that these needs are very similar for each association. So such workshops give great benefit, in that we can exchange information.
"I would ask those associations who have acquired great experience to share their know-how with others," he added. UEFA, in the form of its successful subsidiary company UEFA Media Technologies (UMT), is also determined to move European football forward in the field of information technology, and is already making considerable resources available.
UEFA's own global strategy has evolved with the development of the field. UEFA head of information technology Philippe Grivel told the workshop that before 2000, the accent was on simple IT solutions to cater for the needs of UEFA staff. From 2000, increased complexity, more clients and more specific needs led to the development of an IT and Internet strategy, and 2004 saw the global IT strategy become part of UEFA's overall strategy.
UMT provides UEFA with the tools to develop European football, and preserve and develop UEFA's independence in the management and exploitation of its competitions, as well as assisting the football family in their own development in areas ranging from event management, ticketing and finance to handling referee appointments and fixture arrangements.
The workshop showed that because football moves on constantly, the way the game is administered has to keep pace in the future. "Football is sport, emotion, passion and fun," said Grivel, "then why is an effective IT strategy important to UEFA and European football? It's because information technology is making its own contribution to the game's success."
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