Terre des hommes (Tdh) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) have joined efforts to develop a Europe-wide child safeguarding program aimed at providing a safe and positive experience for all children and young people who play football.
Football, as other sports, is a great opportunity for children to make new friends and develop their skills. During training, games or kick-about, they learn valuable life lessons such as fair play, teamwork, and commitment. Nevertheless, unsafe sports settings can put children at risk of neglect, physical, emotional and even sexual abuse. Tdh and UEFA have started a Europe-wide child safeguarding programme to make football a safe, positive and enjoyable experience for all children.
Our objective is to raise awareness, educate and train individuals to ensure that adults participating in football activities with children and young people do not expose them to harm or abuse. Through our project, we promote effective policies, practices and procedures and equip national football associations in Europe with the necessary knowledge and resources to prevent harm and to respond to situations of concern.
A child safeguarding policy for national football associations
A child safeguarding policy was developed for UEFA, reaffirming UEFA’s commitment to ensuring that football is a safe and positive experience for all children involved in the game. Additionally, a sample child safeguarding policy is made available to support national football associations in their actions to safeguard children. The policy outlines the guiding principles, minimum requirements and procedures to follow, in order to provide a safe environment for children. National football associations are encouraged to use this policy as a strong basis for their own safeguarding policies.
Innovative and practical tools
To help national associations and clubs in training their staff, we have developed the Child safeguarding toolkit for UEFA member associations and a suite of e-learning courses. The toolkit includes guidance and templates such as codes of conduct, risk assessment tools and safer recruitment procedures that are necessary for putting the child safeguarding policy into practice. The four e-learning courses have been designed to be interactive and will be accompanied by in-depth face-to-face training.
Our e-learning courses:
- The Awareness-raising course outlines the concept of safeguarding and our joint responsibility to make football a safe environment for children.
- The Safeguarding for staff course is suitable for all staff and volunteers, helping them to understand their role in safeguarding, and how they can implement preventive measures and report situations of concern.
- The Safeguarding for coaches course is more specific and covers topics such as recognising signs of abuse, particular risk situations for children in a football environment and how to respond to safeguarding concerns.
- The Child safeguarding focal point course is for professionals appointed as contact for child safeguarding issues.
Both the toolkit and e-courses are available in English, French, German, and Russian.
A dedicated platform for child safeguarding in football
Tdh and UEFA have also established a digital platform, aiming to improve the knowledge, attitudes and practices of all those involved in football. All persons working directly or indirectly with children in football settings, such as coaches, doctors, drivers and other staff, and any individual interested in child safeguarding in football are welcome to join the online platform. It offers e-learning courses, webinars, news, access to the child safeguarding toolkit and a library of thematic resources, as well as the opportunity to connect and share experiences and expertise among professionals.