Safeguarding children in European football
UEFA and Terre des hommes, after extensive and thorough consultation with UEFA’s 55 member associations, have developed a child safeguarding framework aimed at supporting UEFA and its members in reviewing or implementing a range of measures to protect and safeguard children from abuse and/or harm and deal effectively with any concerns that may arise.
The commitment to the safe participation of children and young people, irrespective of their age, ability or capacity, gender, ethnicity and social background, religious beliefs and sexual orientation, was highlighted by the UEFA President at the UEFA Congress 2017 in Helsinki and the toolkit officially launched in April 2020.
“Children can greatly benefit from the practice of sport, including football," says Fanny Bellier from Terre des hommes. "It improves their health, but also social and emotional well-being. To really achieve this, we need to make sure children can practice in a safe and enjoyable environment and are not subjected to any harm and abuse. Together with UEFA, Terre des hommes are committed to protect children and uphold children’s rights in football."
The UEFA child safeguarding policy, together with the online toolkit for member associations and the digital platform dedicated to child safeguarding in European football, form the toolkit. They constitute important instruments for identifying risks and helping prevent or minimise the chances of harm occurring, as well as taking responsive action to ensure that any incidents are handled appropriately.
To put child safeguarding into practice and ensure it makes a positive difference, it is essential for all those involved in football, particularly those working with or coming into contact with children and young people, to be aware of the importance of the issue and have the necessary knowledge to be able to both understand safeguarding and how to respond.
The online platform is essential for all individuals working directly or indirectly with children in football settings, such as coaches, doctors, drivers, volunteers and other staff. It addresses their need for a specialised virtual space to exchange ideas and share good practice from others in the field and enhance their skills.
The users of the platform can access the latest news and resources in football and safeguarding, as well as connect with others to build conversations around the topic.
The platform is also home to the child safeguarding toolkit and four accompanying online courses, which help individuals understand the issues around safeguarding in depth. 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 into practice.
On the website, there are four interactive online courses created by UEFA and Terre des hommes, on the safeguarding of children in football, which align with the UEFA safeguarding toolkit. These cover the following topics:
- Awareness raising on child safeguarding in football: A basic introduction to child safeguarding in football, including key concepts and the importance of safeguarding. This 15-minute course is intended for all involved in football, including parents
- Child safeguarding for coaches: This 45-minute course acknowledges the key role coaches play in the safeguarding of children. It helps them identify signs of abuse, risk situations and how to respond to safeguarding concerns
- Child safeguarding for staff: This 30-minute course is intended for staff and volunteers who work directly or indirectly with children in football. It helps them understand their role in safeguarding, and how they can take preventative measures or report any concerns
- Child safeguarding focal points: Training for those who want more specialised knowledge, such as an organisation’s safeguarding focal points or main contacts for safeguarding. In 45 minutes, the course covers the responsibilities of safeguarding focal points, the procedure to refer a case to specialised agencies and/or law enforcement, and how to handle situations when children disclose that they have been abused. It builds upon the courses designed for staff and coaches
The online courses and their flexible mode of delivery ensure that issues of safeguarding are widely disseminated and easily available for those involved with children in sport. They are all available in English, French, German and Russian, and users receive a certificate of completion for each course they complete. The courses are free, but users must create an account on the platform.