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UEFA and Disney to promote the women’s game with partnership

An exciting new partnership will encourage girls to participate in soccer, with a new grassroots women’s youth soccer project the catalyst behind it.

UEFA, the governing body for soccer in Europe, and global entertainment giant Disney have teamed up by announcing their partnership which will work towards getting more young girls involved in the sport.

The Playmakers Scheme, a European-wide grassroots initiative, will use coaching sessions inspired by Disney films and features its characters to creatively provide a pathway into the sport for girls aged between five and eight.

This new opportunity represents one of the first major initiatives launched by UEFA since it revealed its ‘Time for Action’ women’s soccer strategy in 2019, aiming to double women’s soccer participation by 2024.

The European scheme comes partly as a result of a knowledge-transfer agreement between UEFA and the Football Association (FA), England’s national body, which already runs a similar Shooting Stars project in collaboration with Disney.

UEFA’s Head of Women’s Soccer, Nadine Kessler has been the main spokesperson behind the scheme.

“Playmakers can attract girls who might not have had any contact with football at all, or might be generally not very active,” she said.

“Our ultimate goal is first of all to get them active and to learn different kinds of movement before the football comes in. But we would be very, very happy if the girls are that inspired and that in love with the game that they wish to continue their route.”

Nicole Morse, Disney’s Vice President of Integrated Marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) has also contributed to getting this program off the ground.

“By using our much-loved characters and stories as a force for good, we can really make a difference and inspire families and children to be more active,” she said.

It showcases the wonderful rise and continual popularity of the women’s game that a big organisation such as Disney want to collaborate their ideas.

The depth of talent will only get stronger with programs such as these that will make young girls and women strive towards the big leagues and competitions on the world stage.

Liam Watson is the Managing Editor at Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Acun Medya Group secures Hull City takeover

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, headed by Acun Ilicali.

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, for a fee in the reported region of $37 million AUD.

Acun Ilicali, a 52-year-old businessman and owner of Acun Medya Group, was introduced to fans at the MKM Stadium prior to the club’s 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers.

The takeover brings the controversial ownership of the Allam family to an end, much to the delight of fans after a roller coaster 11 years in charge.

Despite overseeing two promotions to the Premier League, an FA Cup Final and Hull’s first-ever foray into a European competition through the UEFA Europa League in 2014, the Allam family became increasingly unpopular with the fans.

The unpopularity of the Allam family is due to many different reasons, however it all started when the family proposed a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ back in 2013. The move was ultimately blocked by authorities a year later, which frustrated the Allams and they then put the club up for sale, straining the relationship with fans and seeing a decline in attendances at home fixtures.

The new ownership will look to win back supporters and turn the negative tide.

Acun Medya Group Owner, Acun Ilicali:

“I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans,” he said.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Ehab Allam:

“During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future,” he said.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us… We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hertha Berlin pushing hard for stadium upgrade

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to the Olympiastadion.

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to its current home, the Olympiastadion, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

The club has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the OlympiaPark would be the preferred location.

In November 2018, Hertha confirmed it was targeting an opening date in July 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with preference to be building a completely new stadium rather than renovating the current one.

The current Olympiastadion has been home to Hertha Berlin for almost 60 years, and has a capacity of around 74,000. However, the club is seeking a more intimate stadium for its fans, as well as the inclusion of an athletics track.

Hertha’s former stadium commissioner, Klaus Teichert, withdrew an application for a decision to be made on the location for a new stadium, with Brandenburg also put forward as a potential location.

Hertha Berlin Chief Financial Officer, Ingo Schiller:

“We have entered into talks with the new government and are working hard to set the course for our new stadium in 2022,” he said.

“The stadium is the club’s most important project, especially in terms of the economic situation.”

There is a lot of political support necessary for the project to get approved, as the potential worksite currently includes residential apartments, a big reason for negotiations coming to a stall at times.

A resident spoke to local radio station rbb24:

“You talk about ir, but not with us. We are still not prepared to sell our apartments in Sportforumstraße or to negotiate about them,” they said.

“It is very unfortunate that our residents in Sportforumstraße are once again unsettled by this uncoordinated approach.”

Hertha Berlin and backers of the new stadium have been in negotiation with Berlin’s sports senator, Iris Spranger, with talks to continue over the next month.

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