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Working with the Football Association

From the pitch at Wembley Stadium to grassroots football in your local area, there are plenty of places you could work with the Football Association – whether you can kick a ball straight or not. Read on to find out more.

What is the Football Association?

The Football Association – or FA – is the organization that manages football in England, meaning everything from the national team right down to local amateur clubs. It is responsible for everything from ensuring rules are enforced on and off the pitch, to training referees and coaches, through to promoting the sport to the public.

The FA operates at two levels. The FA oversees the national leagues, organizes the FA Cup and also represents English football at an international level at FIFA. There are then 51 County Football Associations across the country, responsible for smaller local clubs.

What jobs are available?

The FA’s work splits into three main parts:

  • Governance and regulation: Fair play is important in all areas of football. The FA trains and employs referees and other match officials, who might referee individual games or collect match reports. Match officials may also sit on disciplinary boards to decide the punishments for serious breaches of the rules, or consider appeals from players and clubs who think they have been unfairly penalised. The FA also makes sure clubs are acting within the law when it comes to their business deals. This means it needs the services of lawyers with a good knowledge of contract law, and accountants who can analyse a club’s finances. There are also plenty of opportunities for people with good business skills working as administrative staff in the FA’s headquarters at Wembley Stadium, or in the offices of the county FAs.
  • Education and development: With over two million people playing football regularly and millions more watching at the grounds and on TV, football is a big part of UK society. The FA works to show how the sport can improve both individual people’s lives and that of the nation, by training up coaches, and also working with sports development officers, public health officials and teachers to organise events to encourage more people to play, both for health reasons and to reach groups like women and disabled people who might not traditionally take part. As well as coaches and officials, these programmes need people with experience of marketing to promote them.
  • Wembley Stadium: As owner of the country’s biggest stadium, the FA needs everyone from venue managers and security to keep the crowds safe, catering staff to keep them fed, and groundspeople to keep the pitch up to scratch as well. Plus, you’ll not only get to watch some of the world’s best football but hear some of the best music as well, as the venue is regularly the stage for massive concerts.

How do I get into working for the Football Association?

There are plenty of ways into working with the Football Association, depending on what you want to do. The FA careers website advertises vacancies for administrative, marketing and other staff at national level, and you’ll normally need relevant qualifications for these posts. You could also contact your County FA to see if they have anything available.

If you’d prefer to be getting your feet dirty on the pitch though, you’ll normally need to do some volunteer work with a local team as part of your training to become a coach or referee before you can turn it into a career.

But remember that you don’t have to be directly employed by the FA to work with them. Coaches might be employed by local teams or schools and work with the FA on specific projects, while sports development officers might work for the local council. Similarly, at county level particularly, the FA might hire the services of specialist lawyers or marketing staff rather than employing them directly, and agencies also supply some catering and security staff to Wembley. Achieving the goal of a career in football is like scoring a goal in the game itself: you’ve got to find the best opening and use your skills to make the most of it while you can.

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