Football players from Special Olympics Denmark and Special Olympics Germany vie for the ball at Special Olympics World Games 2023. Marvin Ibo Gungor/Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 LOC

Special Olympics European Football Week (EFW) will feature exciting football activities across the continent from 25 May to 2 June, 2024.

Returning for its 24th edition, Special Olympics European Football Week promises a vibrant celebration of football as a truly universal game for players of all abilities. This highly anticipated annual initiative by Special Olympics Europe Eurasia (SOEE) will engage over 35,000 athletes in 350 events across 45 countries. 

Each May, EFW energises the European football community at every level, and this year is no exception. Over 100 football clubs and 45 national football federations have signed up for the 2024 edition, with the campaign once again receiving strong support from UEFA Respect. 

EFW is a key event in the Special Olympics sports calendar. Since its inception in 2000, it has fostered over 7,900 local, national, and international football activities, significantly shifting attitudes toward players with intellectual disabilities and expanding inclusive football opportunities.

Thanks to EFW, opportunities for Unified Youth have grown substantially in recent years. Unified Sports teams consist of an equal mix of players with and without intellectual disabilities. While only 14 countries offered Unified training and competitions twenty years ago, that number has now increased to 48 countries.

David Evangelista, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President said, “Special Olympics European Football Week represents the very best of our movement: positioning inclusive grass roots sport to drive social inclusion and unity for almost a quarter of a century.

Special Olympics Ireland football team celebrate together at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. Marvin Ibo Gungor/Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 LOC.
Special Olympics Ireland football team celebrate together at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. Marvin Ibo Gungor/Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 LOC.

"This message has been front and center, and has generated increased impact, engagement and visibility across Europe Eurasia as it reaches more athletes, more coaches, more fans and more moments of excellence from the athletes of Special Olympics. From tournaments to workshops to coaches trainings and beyond, #EFW2024 is a celebration of the transformative power of sport, and the urgency of inclusion, on and off the football pitch.”

A significant partnership with UEFA has been instrumental in shaping the trajectory of European Football Week over the past 24 years. Annually, numerous clubs from prominent European Leagues, including the Italian Serie A and Serie B, German Bundesliga, and Polish Ekstraklasa, demonstrate their backing for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

In the current year, 45 UEFA member associations are rallying behind Special Olympics football, advocating for football as a sport for all. Furthermore, UPS Europe and Toyota Motor Europe (TME) have emerged as vital supporters of the initiative in recent times. Both entities contribute funding to grassroots football events and supply employee volunteers for activities throughout the continent.

Evangelista, added, "We are so proud of our long-standing partnership with UEFA. Your collaboration helps ensure that European Football Week takes its rightful place as a key fixture of the European footballing calendar each year, showing the world that football is indeed the Beautiful Game for ALL.”

"The support of local, national or international partners has been key to the growth of European Football Week in last two decades, and we look forward to building on this success in the years ahead.”