From kick-off to kick-start: How UEFA EURO helps develop women’s football

From kick-off to kick-start: How UEFA EURO helps develop women’s football


The drama at UEFA EURO 2024 can make it easy to forget the wider impact of the tournament. Here we highlight how revenues from the men’s EURO boost the women’s game through the UEFA Women’s Football Development Programme.

Grassroots football in Malta

The Women’s Football Development Programme (WFDP) was launched in 2010 to support our aim of growing the women’s game, and is funded by the UEFA HatTrick programme – which redistributes around two-thirds of the net revenue from each men’s EURO back into football.

The WFDP takes some of that money and offers it to each of UEFA’s member associations to  invest in women’s football initiatives, whether increasing grassroots participation, improving elite player pathways or boosting the visibility of women’s competitions.

Some associations invest the money into one project, others on multiple. Some projects are fully covered by WFDP funding, while for others it has acted as a catalyst for further investment. What they all have in common is the aim of maximising the full potential of women’s football.

UEFA will soon shine the spotlight on a specific WFDP project from each of our 55 member national associations, but here, we focus on some of the key initiatives taking place across Europe.

In focus: UEFA Women’s Football Development Programme across Europe

Boosting visibility in Austria

The Austrian Football Federation (ÖFB) has committed WFDP funding to increasing engagement with their national women’s football leagues. Fans can now livestream all the top-division ÖFB Frauen Bundesliga matches on ÖFB TV along with highlights from the second division, while one game each week is now shown live on Austria’s main TV broadcaster.

Creating new clubs in Croatia

Five women’s football development centres have been launched around Croatia with WFDP support, each with dedicated instructors. This has helped to create 15 new women’s clubs, between them attracting 2,000 new registered female players.

Girls at a grassroots event in Croatia

Creating youth pathways in Cyprus

To increase participation, the Cyprus Football Association has used WFDP funding to help create three new leagues – at Under-13, Under-15 and Under-18 level – and integrate women’s competition pathways with national youth championships. The number of registered female players has more than doubled in recent years.

Offering more playing opportunities in Lithuania

Ensuring young girls have the chance to play football in a structured and welcoming environment is a key aim of the Lithuanian Football Federation. Since 2020, not only has the Lithuanian elite Under-15 women’s league been expanded, but a new elite Under-17 league featuring up to eight teams has also been created. To allow women and girls at all levels to develop, a new amateur league of 24 teams has also launched, while participation in the Lady Golas futsal competition for girls aged 11-16 has increased between 30-50% each year since 2020.

Driving elite player performance in Moldova

An elite youth development programme run by the Football Association of Moldova is providing a platform for emerging young female talent. A dedicated training programme for Under-14 players that focuses on adopting the national team’s style of play has helped 30 players be selected for the national women’s Under-15 team. The plan is to form four regional women’s Under-14 teams, alongside providing further dedicated training programmes for up to 72 talented young players.

Ajax and Feyenoord attracted a record crowd for a women's game in the Netherlands

Strengthening top-level women’s football in the Netherlands

The Dutch Women’s Eredivisie has gone from strength to strength, thanks in part to dedicated focus from the Royal Netherlands Football Association. The competition has been expanded from eight to 12 teams, and every Women’s Eredivisie club now also operates a youth team. Fan engagement is increasing as a result. All matches have been broadcast live on ESPN since February 2024, and a record 34,000 people attended when Ajax met Feyenoord at the famous Johan Cruijff ArenA last year.

Supporting women in football leadership in Northern Ireland

WFDP funding has been used by the Irish Football Association to support their Female Football Leaders Programme. The course provides aspiring women leaders with the chance to develop their skills and rise to the top of the game. Nearly 150 women have graduated from the programme, and it’s recently led to the launch of a dedicated network of women working in football.

Norway has used WFDP funding to prepare female coaches for their UEFA Pro Licence

Identifying talented female coaches in Norway

The Football Association of Norway has used WFDP support to help them achieve their aim of identifying and maximising the talent of the country’s UEFA A Licence female football coaches, preparing them for taking the UEFA Pro Licence and top positions as head coaches. The plan is a long-term commitment, but since the initiative was established, two female head coaches have already been appointed to teams in the men’s third division.

Enhancing the fan experience in Switzerland

The WFDP is helping the Swiss Football Association boost the visibility and spectacle of its women's national cup finals. That ambition was illustrated by the signing of a three-year agreement with the 25,000-capacity Stadion Letzigrund to stage the annual showpiece, creating new fan and entertainment experiences on matchday, and inviting local schools and football clubs to the game each year.

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