UEFA has presented its work and campaigns in support of active lifestyles and public health initiatives during a keynote conference in Manchester.
European football's governing body was present at the UEFA-backed European Healthy Stadia Conference at the City of Manchester Stadium. The conference was organised by the European Healthy Stadia Network, and its core objective was to promote public health through football clubs and their stadiums, while also consolidating the corporate goals of clubs.
Featuring a programme of over 35 keynote and plenary speakers, the conference showcased good practice and policy developments in the related areas of sport, health, environmental sustainability, and corporate and social responsibility.
UEFA's football and social responsibility unit presented the European body's health activities, many of which have been successful and enjoyed a high profile in recent times. These included the Respect Your Health – Euroschools 2012 project at last summer's UEFA EURO 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine. The initiative encouraged healthy lifestyles among children and their families, with a focus on smoking prevention, healthy diet, moderation in alcohol consumption, and physical activity.
Advances in tobacco control were a key topic of the Manchester event which took place on 21 March, and UEFA received particular praise for its tobacco-free stadium policy at UEFA EURO 2012 – the culmination of partnership work and policy development between UEFA, the World Health Organization (WHO), World Heart Federation (WHF), European Healthy Stadia Network and local health-supporting groups.
There was a complete ban on the use, sale or promotion of tobacco at all eight EURO stadiums – a first for UEFA at its blue-riband competition for national teams – and this proved a success with non-compliance levels among venue visitors very low. The conference heard that UEFA's decision to ban tobacco from the world's third biggest sporting event sent a firm message to fans everywhere, and reinforced the link between football and good health, as well as emphasising UEFA's commitment to propagating healthy lifestyles through football.
The conference was also briefed about another initiative involving UEFA this summer – the body will be uniting with the World Heart Federation (WHF) during UEFA Women's EURO 2013 in Sweden in July for the Make A Healthy Heart Your Goal campaign.
The campaign advises women and girls to lead an active lifestyle and practise sports such as football to help reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes. UEFA gives its backing to the WHF in particular each September for World Heart Day.
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