UEFA's concerns extend well beyond football as it reaches out to the wider world through its social responsibility activities.
The European governing body uses football's immense popularity to address specific social issues with the help of partners in a variety of fields, funding projects through the monies collected from fines imposed by the UEFA disciplinary authorities and a pledge of 0.7 per cent of UEFA's annual net revenue.
Racism, reconciliation, health and humanitarian aid are just some of a wide cross-section of matters on which UEFA is helping to improve the lives of people across Europe. "The objective is to promote social issues on the football platform and make a positive contribution to society," explained the chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee, Şenes Erzik, who is also first vice-president of UEFA. "The football platform – given its wide outreach – can act, in conjunction with others, as an integrative force for the whole of society."
One notable example is UEFA's co-operation with the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network – a long-standing UEFA partner – to counter racism and discrimination in football and society. UEFA has also worked closely with Special Olympics Europe Eurasia (SOEE) to promote football for players with learning difficulties, while the Cross Cultures Projects Association (CCPA) aims to improve social cohesion at the grassroots through its 'Open Fun Football Schools' project for children from conflicting groups in south-eastern Europe and the Caucasus.
The trio form half of UEFA's six core partnerships, which have evolved over time to mirror the ever-changing nature of the issues affecting modern-day society. The new UEFA social responsibility partnership portfolio for 2007-2011, which was approved by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in Istanbul in 2007, illustrates how UEFA has tailored its strategy to meet the needs of the here and now by bringing three new partners into the fold.
While the advent of the European Union has increased freedom of movement, it has also opened the way for trafficking and child exploitation – two ills UEFA tries to counter by supporting the Terre des hommes Foundation. Thanks to UEFA funding, the Lausanne-based body has recently introduced its MOVE project in three countries – Romania, Albania and Moldova – to enhance the psycho-social development of children through games and sport, thereby making them less vulnerable to traffickers.
'Eat for Goals'
UEFA has also teamed up with Education 4 Peace, whose 'Master Your Emotions' programme targets schoolchildren and fan clubs in a bid to halt the increase in violence in society. The Eat for Goals! book was the fruit of UEFA's alliance with its sixth core partner, the World Heart Federation. The book, in which 13 players – including Ruud van Nistelrooy, Steven Gerrard and Miroslav Klose – laid out their favourite recipes, fits snugly with the foundation's aims of promoting a healthy and active lifestyle in a bid to prevent obesity and cardiovascular disease.
While UEFA continues to work hand-in-hand with its core partners, it has also forged limited-term, ad hoc ties with a number of organisations to promote specific projects, such as the Homeless World Cup. The World Wildlife Fund and the International Committee of the Red Cross have also benefited from such liaisons, with the ICRC receiving a cheque for more than €300,000 from UEFA to help land-mine victims in Afghanistan as a result of the 'Score for the Red Cross' initiative at UEFA EURO 2008™. UEFA also awards a deserving organisation its annual CHF 1 million charity cheque at its Monaco events to kick off the new European club competition season. The European Leukodistrophy Association (ELA) picked up the UEFA charity cheque for 2008.
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