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UEFA's successful HatTrick programme has a positive impact on football – strengthening the sport's roots across the continent with the support it gives to the European national associations.

As its name suggests, the programme has been built on three pillars: the investment programme, education (now the KISS programme) and financial support. The premise is to direct revenue generated by UEFA's major competitions back into the sport and to encourage national associations to upgrade facilities and develop the game.

The beginning
UEFA launched the HatTrick scheme in late 2003 – putting into practice the European governing body's motto We Care About Football.

With revenue from UEFA EURO 2004, UEFA issued a budget of just over CHF 400m (€250m) to the original HatTrick programme, which ran for four years. This sum was subsequently raised to over €330m and, in light of revenue from UEFA EURO 2008, has been increased by a further 40%.

HatTrick kicked off in 2004 with a one-off contribution of up to €1.66m per association, plus annual solidarity payments which started at €667,000. The four-year plan encouraged national associations to approach UEFA for funding to improve areas such as stadium construction, training centre construction/renovation, association HQs and grassroots/social projects.

The budget for the second four-year cycle (2008–12) has increased to almost CHF 500m. Over the four years of the HatTrick II programme, each national association is entitled to a maximum €1.3m a year in solidarity payments – €500,000 to cover running costs with a further €800,000 available for UEFA development and incentive schemes.

The schemes must involve one of the following:
• Improvement of good governance
• Participation in the UEFA Grassroots Charter, UEFA Coaching Convention and youth-development competitions for boys and girls
• Developing futsal
• Implementing UEFA's Club Licensing scheme

A sum of €2.5m is accessible over the four-year cycle for each association for investment projects – with the requirement that 20% must fund social and grassroots projects.

As part of the original scheme, UEFA launched a mini-pitch project to celebrate its Golden Jubilee in 2004. It funded one prototype pitch in each association, and every UEFA member received up to €650,000 to construct as many mini-pitches as possible – creating an opportunity for people to play 'street football' in a safe environment. The concept was so successful that the project was extended beyond its original four-year time span.

• In four years, an average of 40 mini-pitches per national association were built – the highest of them at 2,100 metres in Andorra and the most northerly on the Svalbard peninsula, midway between Norway and the North Pole.
• In Slovenia, UEFA's HatTrick grants provided over 40% of the funding for the construction of 40 mini-pitches, with local communities contributing more than 50%.
• In Germany, €3.6m of HatTrick funding and a substantial contribution from a sponsor helped the national association to embark on the construction of 1,000 20m x 13m mini-pitches. Besides their sporting value, these are being used to enhance the integration of children from migrant families and to improve body-movement skills among youngsters.

Another essential pillar of the HatTrick activities is the Knowledge and Information-Sharing Scenario (KISS) project. This aims to bring even more professionalism to the associations in key areas such as television and internet rights, promoting events, media work, security and ticketing.

The 2009 UEFA Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark heard that HatTrick's sphere of activity was wider than ever.

• HatTrick was established in 2004 to help promote and advance the European game and aid national associations in upgrading their infrastructures on and off the pitch
• The HatTrick scheme will continue for the 2008–12 period, funded by UEFA EURO 2008 revenue.
• Each association receives a maximum €1.3m a year annually.
• Associations can also receive grants of up to €2.5m from the single investment programme.

Increase in funds from 2012
In December 2010, the UEFA Executive Committee approved a proposal for an increase in solidarity payments to the 53 European national football associations via the HatTrick programme.

Under the new HatTrick III scheme, which will run from 2012 to 2016, each national association will receive €3m as part of the overall investment programme and then a further €1.5m a year, over the four-year period, in solidarity payments that are linked to certain commitments – such as the implementation of the club licensing scheme, participation in non-top competitions, and membership of the UEFA Coaching Convention and UEFA Grassroots Charter. Consequently, the total amount payable per national association via HatTrick III is €9m, which represents an increase of more than 15% in comparison with HatTrick II.