Álex Remiro shares his experience on World Mental Health Day

Álex Remiro shares his experience on World Mental Health Day

The Real Sociedad goalkeeper celebrates the start of the new Champions League season by putting his football know-how and leadership to use for social change.

Ahead of World Mental Health Day, we met with Álex Remiro, a new Friend of the UEFA Foundation for Children, to talk about the importance of psychological well-being at a time when more and more people, particularly children, suffer from mental health problems.

How can sport, and football, help to overcome psychological or mental illness?

I think all sports can and it's even more true with football because it's followed by a lot of people. It helps you maintain good physical health of course, but it also provides much more.

Football allows you to get to know people, it allows you to solve problems together, it allows you to learn how to be a good person in the dressing room. When you wear your club jersey, you represent a city and its values. This gives you a responsibility but also a lot of pride.

How do you prepare mentally before a game?

I try to give my best every week, Monday to Friday. Be really motivated. If everything goes well, I know I will be ready for the match without any thoughts or problems on my mind.

After each match, I relax and prepare to face the next team, learning about their strengths, their way of playing, and the players who might or might not be there. It's about knowing and being realistic about the pressure of the match.

I've been working on my mental health for nine years with my sports psychologist.

In the beginning, I didn't feel confident, I didn't want to go to training, and I didn't feel good in my club. Then my psychologist told me: “Look at it differently: it's not about problems with the club, it's not about problems with the manager, it's not about problems with your family. You should focus on what you really want. If you want to train and play, just focus on training and then you'll play.”

Do you have any advice for young people who might be under pressure or harassed or who might feel like they are in a critical situation?

One piece of advice I always repeat is to be realistic and know your expectations. It's different if you play for fun than if you play professionally. Sometimes we put more pressure on ourselves than necessary. Football is a sport and sport is about having fun. Some children and families forget this.

So, the advice I would give would be to focus on training, be the best friend you can be and respect your club and your coaches. When matchday comes, the important thing is the team; the result of the match does not define your life.


Alex’s commitment to grassroots football

In March 2023, the Navarrese goalkeeper launched his own project in cooperation with the foundation’s partner Fútbol Más. It aims to give children who play football and their families the knowledge and tools needed to ensure their emotional well-being, resilience and mental health.

This project involves 50 out of the 96 football clubs in Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, reaching 2,500 boys and girls and 1,250 families. The objective is to bring the rest of the clubs on board in the coming year.

“This theme is particularly close to my heart because I was very affected by insults and people who lack respect for referees, managers or players. I felt like it was a real problem. Children are not equipped to face these situations. This is what made me commit to this programme. Through a team of sports psychologists, we provide tools to help them better manage these situations. It's about protecting our children and grassroots football.”


Football is about more than scoring goals

“I always liked helping children,” Remiro says. “Kids follow their idols; they listen to their words. I had the opportunity to meet big players when I was young, and that inspired me to follow my path. It’s very important for me to help kids have a better attitude on the pitch, at home or at school. Kids are like sponges: they take on everything, good and bad, so we must make sure we give them good things.”

“UEFA’s values are the same as those that I defend in my project. In sports as in life, you don't win at any cost. There are values and rules to follow, such as respect and fair play. In my project, all these values are part of the training that we offer.”

We welcome Alex's excellent initiative on mental health and look forward to collaborating on more projects in the future.

I always liked helping children. Kids follow their idols; they listen to their words. I had the opportunity to meet big players when I was young, and that inspired me to follow my path. It’s very important for me to help kids have a better attitude on the pitch, at home or at school. Kids are like sponges: they take on everything, good and bad, so we must make sure we give them good things.”

- Álex Remiro, Friend of UEFA Foundation for Children

“I love you, Haaland!” – UEFA Foundation brings joy to Super Cup

“I love you, Haaland!” – UEFA Foundation brings joy to Super Cup

In a heartwarming display of humanity, Jack Grealish, Erling Haaland, Ivan Rakitic and their team-mates met kids invited by the UEFA Foundation for children ahead of Wednesday’s Super Cup.

It was more than just football that took centre stage at the UEFA Super Cup in Piraeus, Greece this week. The UEFA Foundation welcomed local children from Greek associations A Ball for AllActionAid Hellas and Cosmos to the game, where they had the incredible experience of meeting Manchester City and Sevilla players the day before the match.

The three associations support children and refugees in need by providing them with opportunities to play football and to develop a strong community around the beautiful game. On Tuesday, the kids couldn’t contain their excitement as they had the chance to attend the training sessions and meet star players from the two teams.

“Why do you think people should play football?” posed a young voice. “Because I believe we can make a lot of people really happy with football” answered Sevilla star player Ivan Rakitic.

Loukia, ten years old, a visually impaired girl from Ball For All association, held the honour of chatting with Rakitic, ambassador of the UEFA Foundation, while others had the chance to have their shirt signed, exchange words with the players and even take pictures with their heroes.

The next day, beyond the confines of the stadium at the fan festival in Piraeus, generations intertwined as the kids had a lot of fun testing their football skills and playing with the Greek legends who won the UEFA EURO back in 2004 such as Angelos Charisteas , Giorgos Karagounis, Angelos Basinas, and Dimitrios Papadopoulos, founder of ActionAid Hellas

The whole group then headed to the stadium to attend the game, some of the older children acting as centre-circle flag carriers at the opening ceremony. At the end of the match, which saw Manchester City emerge triumphant following a penalty shootout, young Loukia stood alongside UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin to hand out the medals, where she shook players' hands and even got a hug from Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola.

The best moment ever was when I accompanied the president of UEFA to the award ceremony. Such an exceptional honour! I was full of joy and happiness!! Vision is not always necessary. I understood people cheering, players passing by, the touch of a hand, a kind voice bending towards me, a kiss on the cheek, a gold metal around my neck. Thank you, UEFA Foundation for Children, thank you A Ball for all. You made me feel an equal part of a big family and of a spectacular event.

Loukia, 10 years old, from A Ball for All


Football for cultural inclusion at UEFA Super Cup

Football for cultural inclusion at UEFA Super Cup

The UEFA Foundation for Children will emphasise integration through football to make our world a more tolerant and welcoming place.

The UEFA Foundation for Children will once again use this year’s UEFA Super Cup match to raise awareness of important social issues, prioritising in particular the right of the child. Since it was established in 2015, the UEFA Foundation for Children has become a key presence at the UEFA Super Cup, demonstrating that football, and sport in general, has a positive impact on children and can change the outlook of even the most vulnerable.

While the UEFA Champions League title holder Manchester City FC and the UEFA Europa League winner Sevilla FC will fight for one more trophy at this year’s UEFA Super Cup in Piraeus, Greece, the UEFA Foundation will carry a message of cultural inclusion and social integration.

In close collaboration with partner organisations such as Action Aid Hellas, FC Cosmos and A Ball for All, children that have been affected by societal exclusion in one way or another - from victims of global conflict to those battling physical impairments - will take part in unforgettable experiences around this year’s match.

Activities around the UEFA Super Cup in Piraeus will include:

1.  On Tuesday 15 August, a selection of children will visit the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium to watch Sevilla and Manchester City’s official training sessions. They will have the opportunity to meet with players, participate in a kickabout session and take photographs with both teams.

2. At the fan festival on the Town Hall square in Piraeus, on Wednesday 16 August, children will play in a football match alongside legends from Greece’s historic 2004 EURO-winning team. They will also take part in challenges and will have the opportunity to have their photos taken with the former Greek football legends and the UEFA Super Cup trophy.

3. As part of the UEFA Super Cup’s opening ceremony, Mastercard will offer 16 player mascots positions to young children from Action Aid Hellas, FC Cosmos and A Ball for All who will proudly enter the pitch accompanied by the star player of the match. Older children will also play a key role in the opening ceremony, acting as central circle carriers.

These activities seek to act as a reminder of football's profound capacity to instil values such as commitment, discipline, mutual aid, respect, and tolerance. It serves as a powerful testament to the fact that football has the extraordinary ability to foster profound connections among individuals, transcending geographical and cultural barriers.

Sevilla FC midfielder Ivan Rakitić, who is playing in his third UEFA Super Cup final this year, serves as a proud ambassador for the Foundation and echoes this sentiment. Having played alongside teammates from every corner of the globe during his illustrious career, Rakitić offers a poignant reflection:

There’s no room for discrimination in football or any other sport. We’re all against it, players and clubs support each other, and we’re trying to move towards a safe environment for everyone.




Location and general information

Location 15 regions of Ukraine
Start date 01/01/2023
End date 12/31/2023
Cost of the project €267,628
Foundation funding €125,000
Project identifier 20220528
Partners The Charity Found "Around Football”
Categories Access to Sport - Children with disabilities - Conflict victims - Healthy lifestyle - Personal development


Children, affected by war, experienced fear, are withdrawn, and psychologically stressed. And sport is one of the tools that can provide psychosocial support to such children.

Project goals

  • Create a network of professional volunteers (managers, coaches, medical and psychological volunteers) in 15 regions of Ukraine.
  • Conduct training for the teams of specialists: briefings by instructors, child protection courses.
  • Conduct psychosocial sessions for children and youth.

Project content

The main purpose of the project is provision of targeted psychosocial support to children and teenagers, affected by war. This support will be provided through sport activities. A network of trained teams of specialists (managers, sport coaches, medical volunteers, psychologists) will work with children, involve them in sport activities. Such form of work with children will help the direct beneficiaries to overcome fear and to return to normal life.


Football for Future

Location and general information

Location Urban areas of Ukraine: Kyiv, Irpin, Bucha, Svitlovodsk, Myrhorod, Rivne, Brovary, Kremenchuk
Start date 03/01/2022
End date 04/30/2024
Cost of the project €59,875
Foundation funding €53,460
Project identifier 20220924
Partners Shakhtar Social charity organisation
Categories Access to Sport - Conflict victims - Personal development


According to the Ukraine Internal Displacement Report produced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there were 5,088,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine in May 2023. The report also indicates that:

  • 47% of IDPs are aged 5-17 years old;
  • 17% of IDP households lack access to education for their children.

Project goals

Football for Future is a social football project designed to promote inclusion and social cohesion, providing equal chances for 640 internally displaced children and socially disadvantaged kids to play football and get involved in extracurricular activities, providing relief from their circumstances.

Project content

The 640 children will be able to participate in free football sessions and local tournaments in eight cities around the country.

  • Free football sessions are run year-round and include physical exercises, fun games, educational personal training and football, three times a week for each participant.
  • Local tournaments are organised twice a year to unite all participants, enhancing their experience, enjoyment and connection within the local community.


TACKLE Racism in Grassroots Football: UEFA Foundation leads the way

TACKLE Racism in Grassroots Football: UEFA Foundation leads the way 

"TACKLE Racism in Grassroots Football," with the objective of combating racism, discrimination, and intolerance within the sport.

Embracing a three-year journey supported by the EU Erasmus+ programme, the UEFA Foundation for Children warmly welcomed the TACKLE conference at UEFA in Nyon. The event aimed to champion inclusivity and tackle racism in non-professional football. By specifically focusing on coaches and managers in grassroots football clubs, the project raises awareness, fosters competence, and develops strategies to eradicate racism from the beautiful game. With a comprehensive approach at its core, this inspiring initiative aspires to create a lasting impact on players, grassroots football, and the wider sporting community. 

Promoting inclusion in football is to be placed at the top of the priority list of big organisations. This is the start of the fundamental change; it means acknowledging where we are today and what we want to achieve. Actions and implementations will be much easier. 

-Clarence Seedorf, board member of UEFA Foundation for Children 

It was important for the Foundation to be part of this project in collaboration with the European Commission. We all know about discrimination and the existence of abuses in football. It is great to be able to rely on scientifical research to come up with responses in promoting inclusion in our beautiful sport. 

-Urs Kluser, general secretary of UEFA Foundation for Children 

The project uses a comprehensive multidimensional approach based on five axes:

1. Enhancing awareness and competences

One of the core objectives of the TACKLE initiative is to empower football coaches and managers operating in grassroots football to proactively manage and prevent racism, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance. By providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills, the project aims to equip these individuals with the tools to effectively address and eradicate racist behaviours within their clubs. Through workshops, seminars, and interactive training sessions, participants can enhance their awareness and competencies in dealing with these critical issues.

2. Prevention and mitigation of racism incidents

The TACKLE project also recognises the importance of prevention and a proactive approach when it comes to anti-racism measures. To achieve this, extensive research was conducted to examine and analyse the current realities, challenges, and gaps related to the presence of racist behaviours and incidents. The findings were used to identify effective approaches and policies that could be implemented to address the issue at its core. By adopting a proactive stance, the project aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for all participants, promoting equal opportunities and fostering respect and understanding among diverse communities.

3. The TACKLE Toolkit

The TACKLE toolkit consists of best practices to tackle racism specifically within the context of youth and amateur football. It serves as a guide for coaches, managers, and stakeholders, offering practical strategies and actionable steps to address and prevent racist incidents effectively. By promoting the widespread adoption of these best practices, the TACKLE project aims to create a collective effort to combat racism, fostering a more inclusive and harmonious grassroots football community.

4. E-Learning Platform and Curriculum

Providing information and resources to tackle racism and abuse is key. Therefore, an e-learning platform is available to all and provides instant access to the project's full suite of materials and digital learning resources. Coaches, managers, and interested individuals can access the curriculum, which is specially designed to cater to the needs of grassroots football. Through interactive modules, quizzes, and multimedia content, learners can deepen their understanding of racism in football and acquire practical skills to tackle the issue effectively. The e-learning platform serves as a centralised space for information, promoting continuous learning and knowledge sharing among stakeholders.

5. Partnerships and cooperation

The TACKLE project's impact extends beyond national borders through the organisation of multiple events in participating countries. These events bring together key stakeholders, including coaches, managers, football associations, and community leaders, to raise awareness about the severe impact of racism on players, grassroots football, and sports in general. By fostering dialogue, knowledge exchange, and collaboration, the TACKLE initiative aims to create a network of like-minded individuals and organisations dedicated to eradicating racism from football.

Led by the Centre for the Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology (CARDET), the project consortium includes NGO KMOP, the Irish Spectrum Research Centre, the FARE network, the University of Pitesti in Romania, the Institute of Development in Cyprus, and the UEFA Foundation for Children. This collaboration ensures a multidisciplinary and holistic approach in addressing racism, discrimination, and intolerance in grassroots football.

Nyon, Switzerland - June 23rd: Tackle Conference - Tackling Racism and Discrimination in Football, at the UEFA Headquarters, The House of the European Football, on June 23rd 2023. (Photo by Kristian Skeie - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission (Erasmus+ Project Number: 622561-EPP-1-2020-1-CY-SPO-SCP).

Winners of the 2023 UEFA Foundation for Children award announced.

Winners of the 2023 UEFA Foundation for Children award announced.

The €1m award has been shared equally among 23 organisations recognised for their outstanding efforts to support vulnerable children.

Each year, the UEFA Foundation honours charitable organisations for their outstanding contributions to supporting vulnerable and marginalised children while adhering to the foundation's charter and code of ethics. This year, the €1m of the foundation prestigious award was shared between 23 organisations that excelled in this respect. A total of 101 organisations have benefited from this additional funding since the awards were introduced in 2017.

"On behalf of UEFA, I would like to express my sincere admiration for our award winners, for their tireless efforts and dedication, which have significantly impacted children's lives. Through their selfless work, they have become a beacon of hope and inspiration for countless children, empowering them to overcome challenges and achieve their full potential," said Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA president and chair of the foundation’s board of trustees.

"The impact of their work extends far beyond the immediate beneficiaries, as it has a ripple effect on families, communities, and society as a whole, laying the foundation for a brighter and more inclusive future."

The recipients of the 2023 UEFA Foundation for Children award are listed below:

Charity recommended by Award winner
Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) Fund For Armenian Relief (FAR)
Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) FFBÖ Liga Cup
Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) Football Development Foundation
Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) Juna Foot
Bosnia and Herzegovina Football Federation (BHFF) Fudbalski klub RESPEKT (Football Club Respekt), Sarajevo
Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) Social Management Bulgara
Croatian Football Federation (HNS) Zaklada Vatreno Srce (Fiery Heart Foundation)
Cyprus Football Association (CFA) Hope For Children
Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) Special Olympics Czech Republic
Danish Football Association (DBU) UNICEF
English Football Association (The FA) The Wheelchair Football Association (The WFA)
Football Association of Finland (SPL) Me-säätiö (We Foundation) – FC Meltsi
German Football Association (DFB) Spirit of Football e.V. "Ein Ball, eine Welt
Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) Silver Boot Football Academy for Hearing-impaired Young People Foundation
Italian Football Federation (FIGC) Calciosociale (Social Football)
Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF) Futbolo klubas Ataka
Football Association of Moldova (FMF) AO Sunshine
Irish Football Association (IFA) Irish FA Foundation
Polish Football Association (PZPN Amp Futbol Polska
Romanian Football Federation (FRF) Asociaţia Casa Bună (Good House Association)
Scottish Football Association (SFA) Scottish Para-Football
Swiss Football Association (SFA) PluSport
Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) UAF’s projects for people with disabilities



Call for projects 2023

The UEFA Foundation for Children is pleased to announce that the 2023 call for projects will open on 1 July.

Applicants are invited to submit their projects through the dedicated platform accessible on the foundation's official website.

Each project must be consistent with the foundation's core principle of supporting children and upholding their rights and opportunities in various areas, including access to sports, health, education, personal development, integration of minorities, employability, and infrastructure and equipment.

It should be noted that the foundation's support extends beyond projects based in Europe.

The board will carefully review all projects submitted and will select the projects to support during its next meeting, scheduled for November.

Meet and greet with Bijzondere Eredivisie

Prior to their meeting, the board members had the opportunity to meet with participants of the Netherlands’ Bijzondere Eredivisie (Special Premier League) and their parents. This initiative sees children with disabilities taking part in training and competitions within professional clubs, making their dream of playing for their favourite club a reality. The board felt honoured to hear about the children’s experiences, and these exchanges provided profound insights into the significance of the support that the foundation and its partners offer and its direct impact on the lives of these children and their families.

On behalf of UEFA, I would like to express my sincere admiration for our award winners, for their tireless efforts and dedication, which have made a significant impact in the lives of children. Through their selfless work, they have become a beacon of hope and inspiration for countless children, empowering them to overcome challenges and achieve their full potential.

The impact of their work extends far beyond the immediate beneficiaries, as it has a ripple effect on families, communities, and society as a whole, laying the foundation for a brighter and more inclusive future."

- Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA president and chair of the foundation’s board of trustees

UEFA Foundation brings hope to Champions League final in earthquake-hit Türkiye

UEFA Foundation brings hope to Champions League final in earthquake-hit Türkiye.

The UEFA Foundation for Children and Turkish NGO Bonyan Organization create a memorable experience for more than 40 children at the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul.

More than 40 children sampled the unforgettable magic of the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday thanks to the UEFA Foundation and Turkish NGO, Bonyan Organization.

All of them are part of communities affected by February’s devastating earthquakes which hit south-east Türkiye and Syria and were able to enjoy much-needed respite from the on-going recovery situation by taking in Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Inter at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.

The children are affiliated to the Bonyan Organization, an independent, non-governmental, and non-profit organisation dedicated to building human capacity and rehabilitating war-torn communities across the Middle East. Thanks to the invaluable support of the UEFA Foundation for Children, these young individuals were granted an extraordinary opportunity to witness the thrilling action first-hand. Some were even fortunate enough to accompany the players into the stadium before the game as match escorts.

Mohammed, player mascot

"I was really happy to watch the match and meet Haaland! I got very excited because Manchester City won."

The excitement began on Friday when an incredible surprise awaited them with the opportunity to take in the teams’ final training sessions at the stadium. Players from both Inter and City took the time to personally greet their young fans, leaving them astounded yet brimming with happiness. Notable heroes Hakan Çalhanoğlu and İlkay Gündoğan spent time talking to the children and signing autographs before the kids had their last surprise of the day as they came face to face with the Champions League trophy.

Marwa, player mascot

"It was a great feeling when I interacted with the referees and got very close to the trophy, holding the ball that Manchester City and Inter played with.

It was a dream of mine and I didn't expect to have such an opportunity. It was a sweet and special feeling, especially when I attended the team's celebrations."

Since 2015, the UEFA Foundation for Children has been committed to making a positive impact on the lives of young people through the beautiful game. Its unwavering support for the Bonyan Organization and their active involvement in the Champions League final showcased its dedication to using football as a powerful force for good.

The Foundation supports Bonyan Organization’s “Goal-4-all” project with a funding of €200,000. The project's primary objective is to promote peaceful coexistence among children from diverse communities, including refugees and host communities, using sports as a tool for integration. Through this initiative, Turkish and Syrian children gain regular access to sports facilities, while special emphasis is placed on creating opportunities for the integration of girls and children with special needs.

Tarek Alfaraj, programme manager at Bonyan Organization

"We express our sincere gratitude to FedEx Express and UEFA Foundation for Children for their invaluable partnership in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. Together, we have provided essential aid, raised awareness, and showcased the crucial work of Bonyan Organization. This collaboration strengthens our resolve to serve communities in need. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to social responsibility and making a positive impact on people's lives."


More about Bonyan's project.

Special Earthquake fund

Supported by UEFA and its partners, the UEFA Foundation for Children is calling for donations to provide significant support for the people affected by the earthquakes, particularly children.

The funds will be distributed to various partners active in communities affected by the earthquakes. These partners not only provide mental health support to children through initiatives linked to football, but also aid in the rehabilitation and integration of children seriously injured by the earthquakes.

Mastercard and UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to give the joy of football back to children in the earthquake zone

Mastercard and UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to give the joy of football back to children in the earthquake zone

Mastercard and the UEFA Foundation for Children join forces to launch the "Pitches of Hope" project, an initiative to provide hope for earthquake-affected children and youth.

The facilities will open their doors in June in the most heavily impacted earthquake areas, including Gaziantep Nurdağı, Hatay Antakya, and Adıyaman.

The project will be creating safe football pitches for the children affected by the natural disaster, to improve their mental and physical well-being and to strengthen their peer-to-peer bonds.

Istanbul, June 9th, 2023 – Mastercard, official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, and the UEFA Foundation for Children join forces for a new project called “Pitches of Hope”. The aim of the project is to support children affected by the earthquakes in line with Mastercard’s corporate social responsibility work. Mastercard will be supporting the international non-governmental organization Save the Children Türkiye, which will build and rehabilitate football fields in the most earthquake-affected regions, including Nurdağı (Gaziantep), Antakya (Hatay), and Adıyaman; and run football programmes with the aim of instilling new hope in children and youth, by harnessing the healing power of sport.

The football fields will be built and rehabilitated starting from the beginning of June, and the pitches will be completed and open to the children by the end of December.


Launched today at a joint event with the attendance of UEFA Ambassador Marco Materazzi, Mastercard and UEFA Equal Game Ambassador Barış Telli, Fatih Terim, and Selçuk Inan, the "Pitches of Hope" project will create safe spaces for earthquake-affected children to play, improve their mental and physical wellbeing, and strengthen their peer-to-peer bonds. As part of the project, experts in child psychology and trauma designed a series of football-based games, which will be implemented under the coordination of Save the Children Türkiye to facilitate the children's recovery process. Each game is meticulously designed to encourage teamwork, enhance resilience, bolster mental well-being, and, above all, allow children to embrace the carefree essence of childhood once more.  It is believed that expressions of joy, celebratory high-fives, and shared laughter serve as crucial initial strides on the path to healing.

 “WE WANT TO GIVE KIDS A CHANCE TO BE KIDS AGAIN” - AVŞAR GÜRDAL, General Manager of Mastercard Türkiye.

From the beginning, Mastercard supported the activities to heal the wounds of the earthquake-affected regions. Initially, we provided financial assistance for humanitarian aid to the region through various non-governmental organisations and we matched employee donations to the cause globally. And today, we are delighted to announce our commitment to a new joint project Pitches of Hope, with the UEFA Foundation for Children. For the past 29 years, Mastercard has been a proud sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, a highly anticipated competition among football fans globally. To crown our longstanding partnership and pass on hope to our children in the earthquake zone, we have joined forces to give them a chance to be kids again, by giving access to safe guarded football fields. Through the ‘Pitches of Hope' project, we aim to eliminate the lingering effects of earthquakes and strive to establish a fresh wellspring of joy and optimism in the lives of children.”

WE’LL PROMOTE CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING IN A FUN WAY” - URS KLUSER, General Secretary of the UEFA Foundation for Children

“The Pitches for Hope project is a great way to engage the children affected by the earthquake in sport, to promote health and well-being in a fun way, and to help them to overcome their trauma. Thanks to the valuable support of Mastercard, more children will have access to a safe place to play to reconnect with their childhood and hope for a better future.”

“THE PITCHES WILL PROVIDE CHILDREN WITH THE SAFE SPACES KIDS NEED” - OBEN COBAN, Government Relations, Safety and Security Director for Save the Children Türkiye.

"More than four months after the first earthquakes hit, children are still trying to piece their lives back together and adapt to their new realities. As a result, children’s mental well-being is pushed to the limits, unable to move past the distressing experiences they’ve been through. In these conditions, children need crucial support to avoid long-term repercussions on their health, well-being, and development for months or even years to come. We know that the ability to play with friends and loved ones allows children to take a break from their new realities – which is why we are looking forward to supporting the national earthquake response in partnership with Mastercard on ‘Pitches of Hope’. The pitches will provide children with the safe spaces for fun, play, and community they need at such a challenging time.”

The launch event also included a friendly match where children from the earthquake zone had the opportunity to play football with UEFA ambassadors. Following the launch event, the children will have the chance to tour Istanbul along with their families. On the 10th of June, kids will enter the pitch with finalist teams and be player mascots at the UEFA Champions League Final and enjoy being Mastercard’s guests at the stadium, watching the final alongside their families.

Mastercard invites everyone who wishes to support the cause to the Tap-to-donate terminals in the official UEFA Champions League areas around Istanbul.

About Mastercard

Project partner

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all. You can follow us on Twitter at @MasterCard_TR, you can reach all of our newsletters and news kits by clicking on the Mastercard Newsroom https://newsroom.mastercard.com/eu/tr link.

FedEx Express and UEFA Foundation invite referee mascots coming from the earthquake zone to the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul.

FedEx Express and UEFA Foundation invite referee mascots coming from the earthquake zone to the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, Türkiye.

The “Championing an Inclusive Future through football” programme delivered by FedEx continues to benefit Bonyan Organization, Türkiye.

FedEx Express, an official sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, continues its tradition of collaborating with UEFA Foundation for Children to offer memorable experiences to children enrolled in sporting programmes of local non-profit organisations.

The local non-profit organisation, Bonyan Organization, was invited to select three children to accompany the match officials at the prestigious UEFA Champions League final at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Türkiye between Manchester City FC and FC Internazionale Milano.

This latest opportunity from FedEx extends its social responsibility programme, which highlights social challenges faced by the host countries of the UEFA Champions League finals.

The Championing an Inclusive Future through Football programme runs alongside the company’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League. It involves offering financial support to non-profit organisations using football as a tool to promote inclusiveness among communities in cities where the UEFA Champions League finals are held - Paris in 2022, Istanbul in 2023 and London in 2024.

After the terrible earthquake that caused devastation in Türkiye and Syria last February, Bonyan Organization was the ideal partner as they work precisely in these regions. The three referee mascots that are making the trip from Sanliurfa to Istanbul are set to have a unique experience and unforgettable memories.

"Our sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League gives us an opportunity to lend charity organisations a stage", said Brenda McWilliams-Piatek, vice-president of communications, brand and marketing operations for FedEx Express Europe. “This collaboration allows us to provide a much needed platform to raise awareness of the great work they do”. 

We express our sincere gratitude to FedEx Express and UEFA Foundation for Children for their invaluable partnership in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. Together, we have provided essential aid, raised awareness, and showcased the crucial work of Bonyan Organization. This collaboration strengthens our resolve to serve communities in need. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to social responsibility and making a positive impact on people's lives."     Tarek Alfaraj, programme manager at Bonyan Organization.

Urs Kluser, general secretary of the UEFA Foundation for Children added: “Thanks to the unwavering support from FedEx for many years, children from local organisations in the host cities have benefited from activities and support. This spirit of solidarity has been further reinforced this year and we hope to be able to restore hope and illuminate the faces of our young fans”.


Link to the project HERE

About FedEx

Project partner

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenue of $92 billion, the company offers integrated business solutions through operating companies competing collectively, operating collaboratively, and innovating digitally under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its nearly 600,000 team members to remain focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards, and the needs of their customers and communities. FedEx is committed to connecting people and possibilities around the world responsibly and resourcefully, with a goal to achieve carbon-neutral operations by 2040.


About Bonyan Organization

Project Partner

Bonyan Organization’s project promotes well-being, social cohesion, and safety among refugees and their host communities by leveraging the power of football and sports to foster peaceful coexistence. The project will target 4,000 children representing different ethnicities and regions, with an even split of Turkish and refugee children and of boys and girls.

Bonyan is active in Türkiye - Sanliurfa, Akcakala, Izmir, Gazientep, Istanbul, Mardin - and in Syria - Aleppo, Raqqa, Hassaka, Edlip.


UEFA Foundation making dreams comes true at Prague final

UEFA Foundation making dreams comes true at Prague final

Over 50 children beneficiaries from Czechia's Fotbal pro rozvoj project took part in Europa Conference League final thanks to the UEFA Foundation for Children.

With the UEFA Europa Conference League Final unfolding in Prague, the spotlight shone not only on the thrilling football action but also on the remarkable work achieved by the UEFA Foundation for children through the Fotbal pro rozvoj (Football for development) project in Czechia.

Over 50 young beneficiaries of the initiative enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the grand spectacle of this year's final at Prague's Eden Arena thanks to the joint work of the foundation and two of the competition’s sponsors, Hankook and Engelbert Strauss.

Adding to the excitement, a small group of children took centre stage, striding onto the pitch as referee and player mascots, proudly standing shoulder to shoulder with the Fiorentina and West Ham United players. This honour exemplifies the unwavering spirit and limitless potential residing within each child, echoing the Foundation's belief that "Every child is a champion."

It was my dream to enter the pitch in a full stadium

-Young Karolina had the chance to act as a player mascot for the first time

Since 2020, the foundation has been supporting the Fotbal pro rozvoj project in Czechia, which uses informal football-based educational activities to engage young people at risk of social exclusion. Through the power of sport, the initiative promotes social integration, personal development, and a sense of belonging for the youth in various urban environments across the country.

Football for Development has been running in Czechia for over 15 years, during which it has developed a robust network of national and international partners. Collaborating with clubs, social services, orphanages, and youth detention centres in the cities of Prague, Usti nad Labem, Plzeň, Olomouc, Karlovy Vary and Liberec, the project creates safe spaces for social interaction and personal growth for children and teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those at risk of social exclusion, discrimination, disabilities, and orphanhood.

Football for Development implements the Football3 concept, which prioritises fair play, inclusion, and mutual respect as essential elements of the game. By emphasising social values such as teamwork, discussion, and mutual understanding, the initiative goes beyond sports competition to instil life skills and conflict resolution strategies.

The initiative also employs the Football for Good methodology, integrating football training sessions with social topics and life skills relevant to participants' daily lives. From addressing issues like drug abuse, violence, vandalism, and racism to teaching communication, teamwork, respect, leadership skills, and non-violent conflict resolution, this approach empowers young people to become responsible leaders within their communities.

Prague welcomes and celebrates the achievement of two teams at the Europa Conference League final, but not only. Thanks to the UEFA Foundation for Children and its partners, it will also celebrate the achievement of a number of young people who take part in our Football for Good programme and bring them this unique experience. We are glad our children can contribute to the diversity and celebration of the European Conference League final.

Ansley, Fotbal pro rozvoj manager


Read more about the project


UEFA announce fundraising activities to support earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria

UEFA announce fundraising activities to support earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria

During the week of the upcoming UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, the UEFA Foundation for Children will be collecting donations to aid those impacted by the devastating earthquakes in the two countries.

Ahead of the 2023 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul on 10 June, UEFA – in close collaboration with the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) – have announced a series of fundraising activities as well as logistical and moral support to help people who were affected by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria last February. This follows an initial donation of €200,000 by UEFA and its partner, the UEFA Foundation for Children, to support the vast humanitarian operation assisting the victims through a dedicated Earthquake Fund. UEFA’s member associations also supported the fundraising initiative with over €900,000 worth of donations.

Fundraising and support activities around the final will include:

  • Fans and visitors at this year’s UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul will be invited to “tap-to-donate” with terminals provided by Mastercard, which will be available at the UEFA Champions Festival, Atatürk Olympic Stadium and Fan Zones. The proceeds of the donations will support a joint UEFA Foundation/Mastercard project in Turkey.
  • A free concert, where artists will call to action to “tap-to-donate” will be held on Sunday 11 June at the UEFA Champions Festival at Yenikapı Park. Local leading artist Ferman Akgül and Can Şengün Orchestra & Friends will host some of the finest Turkish musicians on the main stage, starting from 19:00. No tickets are required to enter the festival area and concert.
  • In addition to the “tap-to-donate” terminals, people will be able to make a donation via a QR code.
  • As part of the UEFA Foundation’s ongoing work to support those affected, some children affected by the earthquakes will accompany the players – as part of the Mastercard Player Mascot activation - and the refereeing team - as part of the FedEx Referee Mascot activation -  at the final onto the pitch. The UEFA Foundation will also provide the chance for two groups of children from the affected region to attend the official team training sessions of both finalists, Manchester City FC and FC Internazionale Milano, on the day before the match at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium.
  • Since spectators are not allowed to bring coins into stadiums in Türkiye as per local regulations, any coins removed prior to entry to the final will also be donated to the Earthquake Fund in support of those affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.

The donations will be distributed by the UEFA Foundation for Children in close collaboration with the TFF to a variety of partners who are actively assisting affected communities. These partners are offering mental health support to children through football-related initiatives and aiding the rehabilitation of children who suffered severe injuries due to the earthquakes.



Joint partner

Kick for Trade Festival

Location and general information

Location Basra, Iraq
Start date 12/01/2022
End date 06/30/2023
Cost of the project €110’814
Foundation funding €110’814
Project identifier 20220939
Partners Palestine: Sports for Life
Categories Access to Sport - Employability - Gender Equality - Personal development - Strengthening partnerships


Iraqi children have limited opportunities to take part in projects that support individual development and foster employability. This hinders them from becoming successful and engaged individuals and citizens. 

Project goals

  • Increase employment rates among young people in Basra. 
  • Promote young people’s life skills, personal development, employment opportunities and entrepreneurship 
  • Increase the leadership skills of young leaders 
  • Improve the coaching skills of coaches 
  • Provide an inclusive environment and access to sports for ethnic minorities 

Project content

The Kick for Trade Festival is an expression of the successes of the K4T programme and has sport at its heart. 

The K4T project applies a unique approach to tackling youth unemployment by engaging young people through football. Sport acts as an entry point, offering a safe space for learning and personal development, leading on to further engagement in vocational programmes and entrepreneurship opportunities. Young people are linked to potential investors and employers from the Iraqi private sector through entrepreneurial and employability activities using Kick for Trade teams and tools.  

Football3 and the Kick for Trade curriculum sessions include adapted-rules football matches that enable the youngsters to develop and implement transferable skills that are relevant for employment, such as teamwork, leadership, communication, self-discipline and resilience. The sessions are for children and young people from ethnic minorities and from marginalised rural areas and disadvantaged districts of Basra. 


UEFA Foundation makes a difference in Hungary

UEFA Foundation makes a difference in Hungary

The UEFA Foundation for Children teams up with Hungarian associations to bring happiness and hope to kids through the beautiful game.


As the UEFA Europa League final unfolds in Budapest this year, the UEFA Foundation for Children finds itself in a familiar embrace, for it has a longstanding commitment to supporting local Hungarian associations dedicated to helping children in need.

The UEFA Foundation provides financial aid to the Oltalom Sport Association and the Amigos for Children Foundation, two Hungarian associations harnessing the power of the beautiful game to promote social progress and make a positive impact on kids from local communities.

At this year’s final, thanks to the generosity of Europa League sponsor Engelberg Strauss and the UEFA Foundation, children’s dreams came true in more ways than one. About 100 young guests from Oltalom Sport Association and Amigos for Children Foundation associations had the opportunity to attend the Europa League final in Budapest and some of them even acted as player escorts, experiencing first-hand the excitement and passion of one of UEFA’s biggest events.

Being part of the Europa League final is an amazing opportunity to offer a once in a lifetime experience for our participants. Seeing the smiles on the children's face when their dreams come true is what we can call a reward for our work.

- András Rákos, OSA staff from Hungary

Oltalom Sport Association: football for refugees

In Hungary, the Oltalom Sport Association (OSA) is on a mission to use football as a tool to uplift disadvantaged individuals and foster a healthy lifestyle since its inception in 2005. Through weekly training sessions and football camps, the association provides refugees and migrants in shelters of Budapest with an opportunity to build self-esteem and develop crucial skills such as teamwork and communication. OSA’s objective is also to promote fair play through football as a means of combatting racism and increasing social tolerance.

The UEFA Foundation for Children supports OSA’s activities by donating over 43,000 € to develop new projects and promote integration and social cohesion among refugees in Budapest. Thanks to OSA’s initiative and the foundation’s support, 560 children and young adults, of which 160 are refugees, are benefitting from a safe place to play their favourite game, and a regular physical activity with friends to look forward to.

OSA also regularly represents Hungary at the Homeless World Cup, which uses football to inspire social change and provide opportunities for marginalised players. In 2019, Hungary’s women’s team travelled to Cardiff, showcasing their talent and dedication after months of intense preparation. A year earlier, the men’s team from OSA finished third place in Mexico City.

My father is still home, trying to defend our country. He is in dark places, whereas I am standing in the light of the stadium. I am doing it for you, Dad.

-Zoltán, from Ukraine

Since we had to leave our home and all of our life behind, this is the first time I see my son smiling again. I'd like to say thank you to Oltalom Sport Association for making this happen.

-Marianna, Zoltán's mum

Learn more about Oltalom

Amigos for Children Foundation: visiting children in hospitals

The Amigos for Children Foundation’s mission revolves around fostering healing and empowerment among children staying in hospital. Through the power of friendship, language learning, play, and creativity, the Amigos for Children Foundation and its dedicated university student volunteers, known as Amigos, strive to create a nurturing environment for kids in hospitals.

With the assistance from the UEFA Foundation for Children, the hospital visits project will integrate sports-related knowledge and develop captivating exercise booklets that revolve around the world of sports.

At Amigos, we want to be not only friends but also role models for the children and show them a world they can reach beyond the hospital walls, even through their imagination. Where we talk with them we include topics such as travel, different cultures, books and sports. And if your favourite football player is Spanish or French, you must learn to introduce yourself in their native language, because who knows when you will meet him/her! Thanks to UEFA, it became reality and gave the kids a lifetime of memories and motivation.

-Sára Forgács-Fábián, founder of Amigos

It is important for me to be part of this project, because both Amigos and the love of sport are very close to me. For me, football is essential because of its ability to bring people together on and off the pitch, to strengthen our love of the game and to give us the opportunity to build friendships, while at the same time recognising the power and importance of a cohesive community.

-Csaba Szlovicsák, Amigos volunteer

Learn more about Amigos 


Sport youth inspiring the future – Line Up, Live Up

Location and general information

Location Chui, Naryn, Issyk-Kul and Talas oblasts, Kyrgyzstan
Start date 12/01/2022
End date 06/30/2023
Cost of the project €50 000
Foundation funding €50 000
Project identifier 20220786
Partners Institute for Youth Development
Categories Access to Sport - Healthy lifestyle - Personal development


According to the Kyrgyzstan National Statistical Committee, the country had 1.6 million young people aged 14–28 in 2018, of which 51% were men and 49% women.

The Kyrgyz Republic has a young population, with over a quarter between 14 and 28. Some 70% of young people live in rural districts. There is an urgent need for more extracurricular activities, mostly in rural regions. Getting children to try a broad range of sports at an early age with specialist coaching would boost the culture of sport in Kyrgyzstan.

Project goals

1) Improve the behaviour of young people through involvement in football and sport in general

2) Promote sport and healthy lifestyles among young people

3) Encourage marginalised and potentially antisocial young people to try sport

Project content

Our focus is on rural regions in northern Kyrgyzstan, for a target audience of young people aged 14–16 who are just finding their way in society, forming communities of interest and thinking about their futures.

1) Liaising with youth specialists from the regional education department to identify the schools and regions with the greatest need

2) Educating trainers to deliver the ‘Get into life’ programme in Bishkek

3) Recruiting 150–300 participants to form 16 football teams

4) Organising an inter-regional tournament in four locations

5) Holding a major tournament in Bishkek


KIFUMPA – Girls United

Location and general information

Location Lubumbashi, Katanga region, Democratic Republic of Congo
Start date 01/09/2023
End date 06/30/2024
Cost of the project €138000
Foundation funding €75000
Project identifier 20220560
Partners Play for Change UK charitable trust
Categories Access to Sport - Employability - Healthy lifestyle - Infrastructure and equipment - Personal development


Lubumbashi is the second largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the country’s mining capital. Political instability, corruption and violence are rife, including widespread attacks against civilians, fighting between ethnic factions, sexual violence and murder. The country is also plagued by malnutrition, easily treatable but highly infectious, deadly diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness, the world’s second highest rate of infant mortality and high maternal mortality.

Widely considered an economic resource, families tend to have many children (often more than ten) but lack the resources to support them. Many children are thus abandoned and find themselves living on the street, perpetuating cycles of theft, crime, drugs and violence.

Child brides, young mothers and sexual violence against adolescent girls and young women are commonplace.

Project goals

Educational inclusion: Increase participation in school activities and reduce school dropout rates

Gender equality: Break down gender barriers and develop mutual respect

Educational capacities: Train educators and coaches

Basic skills: Promote awareness of participants' own aptitudes, enhance their relational, emotional, motor and cognitive skills, and help girls in particular to better plan their futures

Health and well-being: Improve the health and well-being of minors through access to clean water, food, sanitation, education, etc.

Sport: Encourage participation in sport, in particular football, especially among girls

Safe spaces: Guarantee access to safe spaces and solutions tailored to the needs of minors

In numbers:

  • 36 trained technical and educational staff
  • 450 students
  • 10 schools involved in workshops
  • 40 girls involved in pre-academy activities
  • 1,000 street children reached by awareness campaigns

Project content

Launched in January 2023, the KIFUMPA (=a Swahili word meaning ball of rugs) project comprises six activities in four categories.

Awareness campaigns

PROXIMITY/SCOUTING CAMPAIGNS: Five evening visits to neighbourhoods where street girls live, to promote the educational and sporting activities available.

COMMUNITY EVENT: Open access concerts and theatre in an area of the city frequented by street children to break down the cultural barriers and stereotypes surrounding activities typically considered to be “for men”.

Staff training

An introduction to values-based training and the importance of identifying and addressing children’s frailties and educational needs during sports activities, helping coaches to support young players’ holistic growth and teaching educators to promote gender equality, resilience and teamwork.

School workshops

A four-hour educational and recreational workshop for 10 schools, using football and art to promote gender equality, inclusion, teamwork and sport among 10 to 14-year-olds.

Education and sport

SUMMER CAMPS: Three weeks of educational and recreational sports activities at the end of the school year, in June and July 2023, as an introduction to the pre-academy.

PRE-ACADEMY: Educational and football courses from September 2023 (5hrs of language classes, 5hrs of maths, 15hrs of general culture and 5hrs of football each week) on the premises of the Futuka men's academy (pending completion of the Msichana Football Academy).