European Fans in Training (EuroFIT); Social Innovation to improve physical activity and sedentary behaviour through elite European football clubs


European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 602170.


  • University of Glasgow (UK)
  • Norwegian School of Sports Sciences (Norway)
  • Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal)
  • Radboud University, Nijmegen Medical Centre
  • KU Leuven
  • Pintail Ltd
  • PAL Technologies Limited
  • European Healthy Stadia Network CIC



20 million fans attend top division football games each week and many more watch on TV. Our aim is to attract these men, specially targeting low-SES men who do not achieve current recommendations for physical activity, to lifestyle change through the personal connection and loyalty to the club they support using the European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) programme. EuroFIT is informed and inspired by the Scottish FFIT programme, which validated several of the key concepts that underpin this project.

This project integrates two technologies within the EuroFIT programme. The first is a novel device (SitFIT) that allows self-monitoring of objectively measured sedentary time and physical activity through real-time feedback. SitFIT will be a low-cost device with an integrated display. The second is a game-based mobile-phone app, MatchFIT, in which players form ‘teams’ to participate in an ‘alternative MatchFIT league’ which mirrors fixtures in real football leagues. These technologies will be integrated into the new lifestyle change programme, EuroFIT, to be delivered in football club grounds by club coaches. 

The project will generate research evidence on the use of social innovation for health. Social impact will include reductions in health risk, improvements in well-being and the decreased inequalities as more men, especially those in low SES groups, are attracted to lifestyle change. Research impact will utilise new understanding of the how health indicators respond to change in sedentary behaviour and physical activity and through new knowledge of long-term maintenance of lifestyle changes. Policy impact will result from the production of clear implementation strategies and involvement of policy makers and opinion leaders from the outset, supported by a targeted communication strategy.


  • Use State of the Art Theory and Evidence: To apply state-of-the-art theory and evidence on motivating and maintaining behavioral change to develop a technology-supported, culturally- and gender-sensitized lifestyle programme for men, to be delivered in top European football clubs.
  • Deliver EuroFIT in 15 Clubs: To deliver the EuroFIT programme in 15 leading football clubs across Europe and evaluate it in a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.
  • Review and Evaluate: To review and evaluate the programme in terms of experience of: a) its benefits (or harms) to participants; b) its benefits to families and wider social networks; and c) how best to refine the programme to make it most attractive to women, families and other groups.
  • Replication and Implementation: To maximize the likely implementation of EuroFIT beyond the funded project by developing detailed, validated guidelines on replication and implementation.


This is a two arm, stratified, individually randomized, pragmatic, controlled trial with an accompanying process evaluation across 4 European countries. The trial will be conducted at 15 football clubs in Portugal, Norway, the Netherlands and England (UK). In each country, 60-80 participants will be recruited.

Using a mixed-methods, interdisciplinary approach the project will measure outcomes objectively, assess short-term cost-effectiveness and estimate long-term cost-effectiveness. We will investigate mediators of changes in health behaviours, and whether changes in lifestyle are themselves mediators of changes in clinically-measured risk factors, so that we can better understand pathways to improved physical health. We shall assess potential moderators of any effects of EuroFIT, to identify subgroups of the population for whom the programme is more or less beneficial. EuroFIT’s potential to impact on and attract other groups, particularly women and families, will be explored via qualitative research methods.

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