A new study conducted by FIFA has found that investment in youth football is perceived to be the most important need for the game, but member associations don’t feel it is an “attractive area of investment.”
The FIFA Youth Football Survey was conducted in 2016 with the aim of gathering information about youth football globally.
It was set up in order to evaluate the support that will be required in the future and to collate feedback in order to adapt our services accordingly.
The survey collected information in nine key areas related to youth football, including youth football competitions, governance and perception of youth football.
It was answered by 178 FIFA member associations (MAs), which amounts to a response rate of almost 85 per cent.
This response rate has enabled FIFA to draw conclusions and provide recommendations which can be applied across all confederations depending on the specific needs in the different regions.
The main findings are:
- There are gaps between national youth leagues and national youth teams (MAs having national teams but not necessarily national youth leagues)
- The median number of staff dedicated to youth football per MA is five
- FIFA is mentioned most by member associations in terms of “stakeholder support” for youth football
- In 78.8 per cent of MAs, youth football benefits from FIFA-funded infrastructure
- 13.2 per cent of the overall budget of MAs is invested in youth football
- Investment is perceived as the most important need for youth football development
- Youth football is perceived as an attractive area of investment in only 20.8 per cent (male) and 12.4 per cent (female) of MAs
Although youth football is highlighted as being in need of investment, the game is not perceived as an attractive area to actually invest in, which highlights the issues that FIFA must tackle in order to improve participation rates.
Based on these findings, FIFA say they will be able to better analyse and assist youth football development worldwide and the member associations in setting benchmarks for their youth development programmes.
But they have their work cut out for them with the contradictory answers given to them by their member associations, and this is clearly a problem that won’t go away.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it’s hypocritical for MAs to say they should invest, yet don’t think it’s worthwhile? Let us know in the comments below.