Europe’s football associations have long been aware of the need to develop grassroots football and are undertaking various initiatives to this end. In England, for example, The Football Association will invest some GBP 200 million over the next five years in improving all aspects of football. The main focus of its investment is on attracting more people to football (players, trainers, referees, managers and spectators), improving the quality of players and trainers, improving the organisation of local football and clamping down on bad behaviour.
In Norway too, moves are underway to improve the standard of play. The association has launched a programme to evaluate Norwegian football by comparing it with other European leagues. This study is expected to result in the definition of concrete aims, both for the national teams and its elite clubs. Upgrading facilities is an ongoing objective for many associations and the Bulgarian football association has made an important step in this regard by obtaining the government’s permission to build a national football centre on the outskirts of Sofia. The complex will comprise at least four football pitches, a hotel, a medical centre, Ieisure facilities and an administrative building. The building will cost more than EUR10 million. Construction began in May and is expected to take four years.
In Germany, the German football association has appointed former international and 1990 FIFA World Cup winner Andreas Brehme ambassador of the “1.000 mini-pitches” initiative. The campaign, which kicked off the in late 2007, aims to install 1.000 such pitches across the whole of Germany by the end of 2008 in order to increase access to football facilities, especially in inner cities. In tne Netherlands, the same aim has prompted the Dutch association to add a new dimension to its street football tournament, which will bring together 40,000 youngsters aged 12 or under this year, by targeting an increase in the number of participants to 100,000 by 2012.