Football is an integral part of global society and, as arguably the world’s most popular sport, it has an invaluable role to play in driving social development and bringing its influence to bear.
The UEFA approach to social responsibility is carefully structured and designed to both create and retain long-term benefits for society through football. The core directives of the UEFA social responsibility portfolio are based on a selection of five-year strategic partnerships which strive for antidiscrimination and diversity, social integration and reconciliation, active and healthy lifestyle, implementing football for everyone as well as funding an important series of football foundations and charity programmes. The 2012-2017 partners are:
• FARE Network - leading the fight against racism and discrimination in football
• Cross Cultures Open Fun Football Schools – using football as a team base, the programme teaches children cultural understanding, cooperation and acceptance
• World Heart Federation – to educate on healthy eating and exercise in the hopes of preventing child obesity and heart disease
• Football for All Portfolio – designed to increase playing opportunities for disabled players:
- International Blind Sports Association (IBSA)
- International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football (IFCPF)
- Special Olympics Europe Eurasia (SOEE)
- European Deaf Sports Organisation (EDSO)
- European Powerchair Football Association (EPFA)
- European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF)
• Football First: UEFA We Care Portfolio – providing support for specific foundations and charity projects linked to the members of the European football family
The roll-out of these core partnerships enables UEFA to grasp the true nature of a specific area and work with experts to establish best practices and potential solutions. In most cases, the road to success is progressive and hence the value of the five-year time-frame over which tangible results can be achieved.
In addition to the core partnerships, UEFA also works with a selection of associated partners. No less important, these key relationships are event and communications related or focus on long-term development and sustainability:
• Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) – working to promote and improve stadium accessibility for disabled football fans across Europe
• Homeless World Cup – an innovative tournament that reaches out to homeless people and, through football, works to rebuild social integration and rehabilitation
• World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – to support the world's leading conservation organisation in putting a stop to the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and climate change
• International Platform for Sport and Development – sportanddevelopment.org is an online central information resource and communication service advocating concrete action in the field of sport and development through a global community
UEFA recognises the essential nature of social responsibility and football and this includes fair play on the pitch. For example, all fines imposed by the Control and Disciplinary Body are automatically reinvested into the social responsibility programmes outlined above.
Since 1998, presentation of the annual Monaco award has taken place alongside the official opening of the UEFA Champions League season. This award involves a donation of €1m to a deserving foundation or humanitarian organisation to support the continuance of their mission.
There are numerous other facets to the UEFA social responsibility portfolio, which evolves constantly in tune with current affairs and the social environment. For example, UEFA has worked in close cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help the victims of landmines in Afghanistan. The UEFA belief is that being socially responsible is a duty and not an expectation. It is a work ethic that no person and no organisation can afford to ignore.
A resolution on ensuring diversity in football was issued at a seminar entitled “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” in December 2014, which focused on institutional discrimination in football. The seminar was organised jointly by UEFA, the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) and the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network.
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