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Annual European Football Week

Supported by UEFA the annual Special Olympics European Football Week is a highlight of the Special Olympics calendar 

June 08, 2015

With a long term commitment from UEFA spanning 15 years, European Football Week is an integral part of the Special Olympics football development project in Europe 

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UEFA Champions Festival Lisbon European Football Week 2015 Resources

UEFA Support

“More than 5000 grassroots activities have been successfully organised by Special Olympics with National Football Federations over the past 15 years that have resulted in changed attitudes towards players with intellectual disabilities. UEFA is delighted with the many playing opportunities the annual Special Olympics European Football Week has helped to create since 2000. We are committed to continuing our support of Special Olympics football activities so everyone has the opportunity to enjoy football, regardless of their ability level. This year's focus is on Unified football and improving the fitness of athletes, which UEFA fully endorses. Football is a very powerful way to promote the values of acceptance, respect and inclusion to communities all over Europe.” said Peter Gilliéron, UEFA, Chairman of the Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee.  

The Special Olympics Annual European Football Week idea was initiated in the year 2000 supported by UEFA. Starting with 15 countries in 2000, currently Special Olympics European Football Week involves almost all European countries.  Each country organizes a variety of football activities including large tournaments, exhibition matches during Club and Football Federation events and small local competitions hosted by communities and schools with an average participation of up to 55,000 people. During Football Week, Special Olympics footballers of all abilities showcase their skills and determination on pitches throughout the Europe Eurasia region. The aim of football week is to encourage people from all walks of life to get involved in the Special Olympics movement using the most popular sport.

Check out images from Special Olympics Hellas.

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7-a-side Football Tournament at Tbilisi, Georgia 2014.

Football Development

Each year European Football Week focuses on areas that need more attention in football and within the Special Olympics community. Football is the world’s most popular sport yet it is estimated that only one in 500 people with an intellectual disability are given the chance to play football due to being seen as ‘different’ or ‘without ability’. The goal of the annual Special Olympics European Football Week is to change this and to get players Unified.

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Special Olympics athletes receive a standing ovation from Celtic FC fans at Celtic Park. Brochure European Football Week 2013

Stronger Every Year

2013 European Football Week saw over 53,000 athletes in 50 countries involved. 420 local and national tournaments for male, female and unified teams and several demonstration “Unity” matches and clinics took place.  This year 55,000 athletes will take part in more than 450 grassroots events.


Top support from Inter Milan in 2014 and 2015 

Top Supporters

Soccer legends Johan Cruyff and Christian Karembeu as well as FC Barcelona star Dani Alves united to show their support for this year's European Football Week. Watch their messages of support here.

Top European clubs are also throwing their weight behind the Week. Celtic FC, Tottenham Hotspur, Inter Milan and teams from Italian Serie A and B, Bundesliga, Polish Ekstraklasa, Hungarian NB I - OTP Bank League, Ukrainian Premier League, Dutch Eredivisie and Belgan Jupiler League are just some of the clubs that are supporting and hosting players with intellectual disabilities during Football Week which runs until June 6th. There'll be more than 55,000 athletes taking part in 450 grassroots events across Europe with the focus on playing Unified and living a healthy lifestyle. The Week kicked off in Rosmalen The Netherlands at 7-a-side Football Tournament (29-31 May 2015). European Football Week will run a series of football fitness seminars, workshops and clinics for coaches including a showcase match at UEFA Fan Zone of Europa League in Warsaw (May 27). The Champions' Festival in Berlin on the 5th of June will also be a highlight. 

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FC Barcelona star Dani Alves is a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics and is getting behind this year's Football Week. 

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Special Olympics Blog

The Start of the Solution

Young people from around the globe with and without intellectual disabilities are coming together at the SOGenUin Summit as part of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games with one goal - to change the world.


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Posted on 2015-07-23 by Natalie

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