The programme was created to strive for a more inclusive environment in European football and progressively open the game to a wider range of people irrespective of ethnicity, religion, handicap, gender and sexual orientation, while shaping the football culture.
Candidates working for a national association or a UEFA partner organisation will present their project proposals at the start of the first sessions and will be then guided through strategies on change management, project sculpting and leadership during group work sessions.
“Leadership and responsibility have to be shown for real change within football bodies,” said Filip Popovski, general secretary of the Football Association of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FFM).
“Our participation in the programme will have an impact as an initiator of change by strengthening the collaboration between all of its stakeholders and leading towards the inclusion of, in our case, women and disabled people.” he added.
The 18 participants involved in the programme’s first edition will also take inspiration from Clarence Seedorf, UEFA global ambassador for diversity and change, Joyce Cook, managing director of CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe), and Piara Powar, executive director of Fare.
Programme ambassador Christian Karembeu will join UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino in closing the week’s activities.
“Captains of Change was created to encourage more diversity in football and we will see some significant steps from that in the first project proposals,” said Mr Infantino.
“While football is diverse on the field of play, we’re working to extend that to the administration and management of the game and in that sense, this is a programme that can change the landscape of the sport.”
The project implementation will be monitored, with follow-ups taking place in the spring followed by the completion and celebration of this first edition of the programme.
Glass Ceiling in European football
The programme comes after a Europe-wide report highlighted shocking low levels of ethnic minorities and women in leadership positions in European football.
The Glass Ceiling in European Football report published by Fare, has found that 95.8% of all senior governance positions at elite level clubs, national leagues and UEFA are held by white men. Only 0.6% of all Presidents, vice-Presidents and Executive Committee members are from ethnic minorities and 3.7% are women.