Elite sport policies and international sporting success: a panel data analysis of European women’s national football team performance

Maurizio Valenti*, Nicolas Scelles, Stephen Morrow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Research question: While national sporting governing bodies are encouraged to implement programmes which seek to enhance their international sporting success, comparative studies on elite sport policies have provided limited empirical evidence in support of the relationship between such programmes and the achievement of sporting outcomes. Following the SPLISS framework, this study examines the longitudinal impact of four programme-level factors – financial support, human resources, coaching provision and foundation phase activity – on the international success of women’s national football teams. Research methods: Data from 55 Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) members were collected over a seven-year-period (2011-2017). The associations between programme-level factors and FIFA ranking points are verified through panel regression analyses. Controls for economic, talent pool, political, socio-cultural, climate and men’s football legacy variables are included. Results and Findings: The results reveal that highly specialised coaching provision has a significant and positive impact on international success in women’s football, while our proxies for financial support, human resources and foundation phase activity have no notable explanatory power for the success of women’s national teams. A country’s economic development, talent pool, climate and men’s football legacy are significant predictors of its women’s football performance level. Implications: This paper offers practical insights into the organisation and management of women’s football in UEFA nations and contributes to the theoretical debate on comparative analysis of the sporting performance of countries. This article confirms that an exclusively quantitative approach does not permit definitive conclusions to be drawn on the complex relationship between elite sport policies and international sporting outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-320
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020


  • elite sport performance
  • international sport success
  • national development
  • sport policy
  • Women’s football

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


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