UEFA Women’s EURO 2025: behind the scenes with tournament coordinator Doris Keller

(Daniela Porcelli / SPP-JP)

Exactly a year from today, UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 will get underway. Our brand-new Issue 85 (order yours here!) includes a five-page feature on Switzerland’s preparation for next summer’s showpiece event. Here is an accompanying interview from Alexia García, who spoke with tournament coordinator Doris Keller…


It’s easy when getting lost in the magic of the sport to forget all the background work that helps tournaments actually come to fruition. With the next edition of the UEFA Women’s EURO now just a year away, we were lucky enough to sit down with tournament coordinator Doris Keller to hear more about the extensive efforts that go into making one of these transformative competitions come to life.

Keller is from Switzerland, though this is a rare chance for her to help develop a tournament in her home country. She has travelled the globe working on FIFA World Cups, the International Champions Cup China, and a series of friendly matches with the Brazilian national team. After over 20 years in football, she has decided to return home with the intention of bringing UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 to the next level.

Can you give us more information about your background and motivations for working in football? How did you get started?

All these events in my life occurred by chance. I’ve been involved in football for 20 years but I’ve never played the sport. Initially, football wasn’t a part of my life; my friends weren’t connected to it, and I rarely attended matches, preferring to watch them on TV. Then I went to Australia to improve my English; upon my return, I was offered two jobs in football. At first, I wasn’t particularly excited about them but I wanted to stay in the sports industry. I began working for a marketing agency that handled the UEFA Champions League; I knew about the Champions League, although I had limited knowledge about football or how youth programs worked.

Later, I transitioned to an agency where I organised 50 friendly matches for the Brazilian national team worldwide, accompanying them on their travels for six years. Following that, I decided to take a break for six months, but during that time, I was approached by numerous people asking for my assistance with various tournaments. For over ten years, I worked as a freelancer on different projects, such as introducing a new league in India and organising friendly matches in China with top European clubs for three summers. Before starting my current job, I worked as a consultant for the South American club federation on club football matters. I always expressed a desire to work more in Switzerland, but only if I could find an interesting job or project. Then, the Swiss FA approached me, and I had to contemplate whether to continue my globetrotting career or pursue an opportunity in Switzerland. And of course, I said yes, so now I’m here preparing for the 14th edition of the UEFA Women’s EURO.

Can you elaborate on the current football landscape in Switzerland? 

Women’s football in Switzerland is not very developed; we have a strong Swiss women’s national team but there is still significant room for improvement and professionalisation in the Swiss league. This is where we aim to raise the bar. Also, from a legacy point of view, the national Swiss league needs to improve. We have to get more girls into football and this is the legacy we want to leave in Switzerland with this Women’s EURO.

In Switzerland, women were not allowed to play football for many years, resulting in a generation gap for those of my age or slightly older. This poses a challenge because most football clubs are managed by men. Additionally, there’s an infrastructure issue in Switzerland, with a limited number of football fields available. We are a small country with many mountains, leading to limited available space for sports facilities. Consequently, if a club wants to establish girls’ teams, they may face difficulties due to the need to share these fields with multiple teams. As a result, it can be challenging to persuade clubs to start girls’ teams.

Left to right: Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc, EURO 2025 tournament coordinator Doris Keller, and Swiss FA general secretary Robert Breiter. (Genti Tahiri)

Obviously, a huge component of developing the Women’s EURO is hoping that you’re developing all of women’s football around the country and changing the perceptions of a lot of people. Do you feel a lot of pressure in coordinating this event or is it mainly motivating? 

Oh, I’m definitely motivated. One of my main goals was to organise this tournament and also to enhance the development of women’s football in Switzerland. This includes not only improving the level of play, but also increasing the participation of girls in the sport, as well as increasing the number of women coaches, referees, and officials. Currently, the football system in Switzerland is predominantly male-dominated, particularly in leadership roles within clubs. Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on developing women’s football comprehensively, involving not just players but also coaching staff and everyone else working in football.

“We would really like it to feel like a big summer party in 2025…”

You’ve made it clear that your goals for the tournament include: sustainability (both economically and environmentally), football infrastructure improvements (particularly for women’s football), and for the overall development and growth of the women’s game. Would you add any other goals to this list?

We would really like it to feel like a big summer party in 2025, where families stay in Switzerland and come to these football matches; for most of them, it will be the first time that they attend women’s football matches. Our goal is to sell all the tickets and show everyone just how attractive women’s football is.

What does your daily work look like? What takes up the most time, and what, if anything, has been particularly challenging?

I oversee hosting matters, which includes managing relationships with host cities, cantons, and the government. Additionally, I handle security concerns. Currently, our focus is on securing funding from the government, which is still pending.* We expect a parliamentary decision in June regarding further financial support in three areas. First, for the legacy projects funded by the Swiss Football Federation. Secondly, Swiss tourism is interested in launching promotional campaigns in key markets to attract visitors to Switzerland in the summer of 2025, coinciding with the football event. And finally, we aim to integrate the public transport system with match tickets to achieve our tournament sustainability goals (the objective is for those with a match ticket to be able to access free travel, with hopes for confirmation on that initiative in due course). I am also responsible for coordinating volunteering efforts.

Navigating the political process in Switzerland has been challenging and time consuming in recent months. My main objective until June is to meet with cities, cantons, and politicians throughout Switzerland to advance these initiatives and secure government funding. We are on a good way.

*Following our interview, it was announced that, after initial indication that the budget would be cut from 15m to 4m francs, the Council of States and the National Council have approved an increase in federal contributions for the tournament to 15m francs.

Can you speak to the (initial) decision to significantly cut the proposed budget for the Women’s EURO and how that will impact your ability to carry out the tournament? 

To clarify, the host cities and cantons have received funding of 50 million francs for the tournament; these 50 million francs are not related to UEFA’s budget. However, there has been an outstanding national funding issue. The ministers proposed reducing the initial bid from 15 million francs to just 4 million. However, it is important to note that the final decision rests with the parliament, which will decide in June. Initially, there was concern that we might not receive support, but now it seems optimistic that the parliament will approve the funding.

I don’t see the reduction in the amount of funding as an attack on women’s football, rather simply that the government pledged money that they didn’t actually have. It really would be a pity to not have all that funding, but as I said before, I am optimistic. Most of UEFA’s budget is financed by UEFA, broadcasting fees, sponsorship money, and ticketing revenues. The additional funds go to legacy programs and developing women’s football in the country. If you have such a tournament in Switzerland, you have to leave a lasting legacy.

“It has always been clear to me that a woman should lead this tournament.”

Can you speak to the importance of having a woman be the director of the Women’s EURO? 

When the Swiss FA approached me about this position, I was initially surprised. However, it has always been clear to me that a woman should lead this tournament. Nowadays, there are plenty of capable women who could fulfil this role, and it didn’t necessarily have to be me. Nevertheless, there seemed to be an expectation that I was the right person for the job. I find it very positive that, wherever I go, this tournament is led by a woman; it sends a strong message and reflects well on our team.

We have many women on the team developing this upcoming Women’s EURO; this isn’t because we specifically choose women, but rather because there is greater motivation for women to be involved in this tournament than men. Therefore, we always aim to have excellent candidates for all the positions necessary to build the tournament.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your vision for the tournament or on how the tournament will impact Switzerland?

I believe this tournament will have a significant impact on women’s football in Switzerland; it’s about time for a change, especially considering the notable improvements in women’s football in our country. Over the years, women’s football has gained more visibility, which is evident from its increased presence on television; it’s quite remarkable to see how much it has evolved.

Personally, I’ve worked on various tournaments around the world, but I didn’t expect that being involved in an event in my own country would hold such special meaning for me. It’s been incredibly rewarding to be contributing to something on such a large scale within Switzerland.

Tickets will go on sale on 1st October 2024, and you can pre-register now!

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