UEFA"direct #168 (29.05.2017)

UEFA"direct #168 (29.05.2017)
No. 168
As Inter FS regain
the UEFA Futsal Cup,
the indoor game
takes off in Europe
Football development special
feature ahead of U21 finals
Interview with Futsal Cup-winning
coach Jesús Velasco
Countdown to the men’s
and women’s finals
t’s amazing how time flies. It seems like only
yesterday that the UEFA club competition
season started – and now here we are
crowning the champions of our premier
This year’s UEFA Champions League final
in Cardiff sees two of the giants of European
football go head to head. Real Madrid CF are
looking to become the first team to defend
their title since 1990, while Juventus aim to
take the cup back to Turin for the first time
since 1996.
The Champions League continues to go
from strength to strength and fans across
the continent have been thoroughly entertained
this season. A record 375 goals have been
scored since the start of the group stage,
at an average of over three goals a game.
Stadium attendances are also rising, and there
has been a welcomed drop in the number of
yellow cards issued.
I am also looking forward to watching
the Women’s Champions League final, with
French powerhouses Olympique Lyonnais
and Paris Saint-Germain vying for the title.
I am delighted that the profile of the UEFA
Europa League has continued to grow.
This year we saw two of the continent’s most
famous clubs, AFC Ajax and Manchester
United FC, reach the final in Stockholm.
While these flagship competitions dominate
the spotlight, we have an action packed
summer of tournaments at all levels. Already,
a competition-record crowd of over 10,000
turned out to watch the opening game in the
final round of the European Women’s Under-17
Championship in the Czech Republic,
hopefully inspiring some of the girls and boys
attending to reach similar heights in the future.
These tournaments also give us the
opportunity to test new rules that could benefit
football around the world in the long run.
For example, at the women’s tournament in
the Czech Republic and the men’s Under-17
finals in Croatia, football’s lawmakers, the
International Football Association Board (IFAB),
authorised us to trial a new order of kicks in
penalty shoot-outs.
There is huge potential for us to develop
and improve the women’s game in particular,
and I believe this summer’s UEFA Women’s
EURO in the Netherlands has the potential to
spark greater interest in the sport and lead to
increased participation.
Five years after co-hosting UEFA EURO 2012,
Poland will have the chance to host another
of UEFA’s most prestigious tournaments –
the European Under-21 Championship finals.
Not only do players thrive on the experience
of competing at the highest international
level; these tournaments also give fans the
opportunity to watch top-quality football
and solidify their life-long love of the game.
Aleksander Čeferin
UEFA President
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 03
04 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
European Under-21
18The history of futsal
The Under-21 final round in Poland
will be a first in more ways than
one, with 12 teams taking part for
the first time and FYR Macedonia
making their debut.
8Special feature
The finals of the biggest children’s
football competition in Europe were
staged in Warsaw at the beginning
of May. This is just one of the many
football development activities
organised by the Polish Football
16 UEFA Futsal Cup
Spanish club Inter FS became the
first four-time Futsal Cup winners
in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
24 The Technician
Jesús Velasco, coach of this year’s
Futsal Cup winners, Inter FS, talks
to UEFA Direct.
30 UEFA Youth League
FC Salzburg won their first-ever
UEFA trophy by triumphing in this
season’s Youth League.
32 Cardiff in the limelight
The Welsh capital is hosting the
women’s and men’s UEFA
Champions League finals. Wales
legend Ian Rush gives us a guided
tour of the city.
Official publication of the Union of
European Football Associations
Chief editor:
Emmanuel Deconche
Deputy chief editor:
Dominique Maurer
External contributors: Graham Turner (page 6)
Alexandre Doskov (page 8)
Julien Hernandez (pages 18 and 24)
Gruffudd Owen, Mark Pitman (page 32)
Peter Surin, SFZ (page 38)
UEFA Language Services
Artgraphic Cavin
CH-1422 Grandson
Editorial deadline:
12 May 2017
Cover photo:
Inter FS forward Pola takes on
Sporting CP’s Fortino. (Sportsfile)
Enrique Serrano
From its South American origins
nearly a century ago, futsal is now
a thriving sport in Europe. To take
its expansion even further, UEFA
is preparing to launch a Futsal
Champions League together with
women’s and youth competitions.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 05
Poland is set to host a landmark tournament in June – the first time that the
European Under-21 Championship finals have been contested by 12 teams.
Getty Images
EFA’s official diary is a master of
understatement. For the month of June,
it simply puts ‘U21’ alongside the days
between Friday 16th and Friday 30th. It fails
to mention that the event in Poland will be
the first European Under-21 Championship final
tournament to involve 12 teams. Nor does it tell
fans of statistics that this is UEFA’s 21st
Under-21 competition, or that this tournament
marks the 50th anniversary of UEFA’s original
creation of a competition designed to act as a
bridge between the youth and senior levels of
international football – all of which adds up to a
half-decent pretext for reflection on the past
and present of a tournament that has steadily
grown in stature over the years.
The record books trace the origins of this
competition back to 7 June 1967, when
Bulgaria beat East Germany 3-2 in the first
match of what was then the Under-23
Challenge Cup. It is interesting to think that,
06 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
in those days, players in the Under-23 age
bracket were deemed to be only just emerging
from their development phase. These days,
talented players tend to be blooded at senior
level at a far younger age, as illustrated at
EURO 2016, where one in five of the players
in the eight squads contesting the quarter-finals
was 23 or younger.
A short jump to the senior team
Indeed, since the competition’s age category
was changed to Under-21 in 1976, the hitherto
long jump to the senior game seems to have
steadily shortened, to the extent that one of the
perennial talking points among those who
coach at this level is whether players who have
already made their debut for the senior team
should be asked to ‘step back down’ to the
Under-21s. While some vote against, others
regard it simply as a test of the Under-21
coach’s motivational skills and maintain that the
FYR Macedonia have made history
by qualifying for their first U21
final round.
16 June
Sweden v England
Poland v Slovakia
17 June
Portugal v Serbia
Spain v FYR Macedonia
18 June
Germany v Czech Republic
Denmark v Italy
19 June
Slovakia v England
Poland v Sweden
20 June
Serbia v FYR Macedonia
Portugal v Spain
21 June
Czech Republic v Italy
Germany v Denmark
22 June
England v Poland
Slovakia v Sweden
23 June
FYR Macedonia v Portugal
Serbia v Spain
24 June
Italy v Germany
Czech Republic v Denmark
27 June
Semi-final 1
Semi-final 2Krakow
30 June
still be notable absentees this summer, such as
two-time winners the Netherlands, and France,
whose solitary title came on home soil way
back in 1988. The latter’s path to Poland was
blocked by FYR Macedonia, who made history
by qualifying for the final round of a UEFA
competition for the first time. What is more,
they did so after achieving a modest haul of just
nine points from their first six qualifying
matches. But four victories in their last four
games, with seven goals scored and none
conceded, resulted in FYR Macedonia,
who are coached by former central defender
Blagoja ‘Bobi’ Milevski, topping their group
ahead of relative heavyweights France, Iceland,
Ukraine, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Their reward is a place in a thorny Group B
alongside Serbia, Portugal and Spain at a
tournament where the teams are divided into
three groups of four and the best secondplaced team join the three group winners in
the semi-finals. The Polish Football Association
has endeavoured to make the 21 games
accessible to as many people as possible:
ticket prices range from €3.50 for group
games to €9.30 for category 1 seats at the
final, and the six venues are spread out across
the country. Group B games are to be played in
Gdynia, on the north coast, and Bydgoszcz,
some 190km further south. The southeastern
cities of Kielce and Lublin – the latter not
all that far from the border with Belarus and
Ukraine – will play host to Group A, which will
feature defending champions Sweden, Slovakia,
England and Poland. Group C (the Czech
Republic, Denmark, Germany and Italy) will be
based in Tychy and Krakow in the south, which
will also host the semi-finals and the final.
This promises to be a fascinating tournament.
Who will emerge victorious from the first
ever 12-team final round and lift the trophy
in Krakow? And how many of the players on
show in Poland will also be on the plane to
Russia for the World Cup in a year’s time?
finals of such a competition add a nice steep
gradient to the learning curve. The Danish team
at the 2015 final tournament in the Czech
Republic were an extreme example in this
regard, with eight of Jess Thorup’s starting XI
for their crucial group game against Serbia
having already been capped at senior level.
That tournament – the fifth since the switch
to odd-numbered years in 2007 – underlined
the value of the Under-21 finals as a springboard
to major senior events. Portugal midfielder
William Carvalho, who was named player of the
tournament by UEFA’s technical observers, went
on to lift the Henri Delaunay Cup in Paris a year
later, along with Raphael Guerreiro, Rafa Silva
and João Mário, other members of that
Under-21 team who made an immediate
transition to the senior side.
Similarly, Sweden, who had their name
engraved on the Under-21 trophy for the first
time in 2015 after pipping Portugal in a penalty
shoot-out, sent goalkeeper Patrik Carlgren,
defenders Victor Lindelöf and Ludwig
Augustinsson, midfielders Oscar Lewicki and
Oscar Hiljemark, and striker John Guidetti to
France, less than a year after they had lifted
the trophy in Prague.
While the Under-21 spotlights inevitably
illuminate the players who are most likely to
make an imminent impact at senior level,
the coaches tend to remain in dimly lit
backstage areas. But their learning curves are
equally relevant. Among those who have
successfully negotiated the transition from the
Under-21s to senior level are England manager
Gareth Southgate and Spain’s Julen Lopetegui,
who lifted the trophy in Israel in 2013 with a
team featuring David de Gea, Thiago Alcántara,
Isco, Koke and Álvaro Morata, all of whom have
since made their mark in senior national team
football and the UEFA Champions League.
Although all eight of the 2015 finalists will be
present in Poland, only three coaches will be
making repeat appearances: the coaches of the
winners and runners-up from 2015, Håkan
Ericson of Sweden and Rui Jorge of Portugal,
and Italy coach Luigi Di Biagio. Thus, nine
coaches will be making their tournament
debuts in Poland.
First final tournament
for FYR Macedonia
Such opportunities have been restricted in the
past. For almost two decades, ties were
disputed on a home-and-away basis. The first
final tournament – in Montpellier in 1994 –
involved only four teams, and the last ten have
been contested by eight teams. The expansion
to 12 in 2017 affords greater opportunities to
players and coaches alike. However, there will
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 07
As Poland prepares to host the European Under-21 Championship finals, its senior men’s
team are dominating their group in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Meanwhile, the
Polish Football Association (PZPN) is a hive of activity, launching new initiatives in a whole
range of areas – everything from grassroots football and licensed products to the
association’s online presence.
08 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
he last few days of April are
unusually chilly in Warsaw.
The temperature struggles to
make it past 14C, with a gusty
wind making its presence felt,
but that does not seem to bother the
hundreds of children who have come
to take part in the final stages of the
17th annual ‘Z Podwórka na Stadion’
(‘From the backyard to the stadium’)
competition. From early in the morning,
dozens of teams from all over the country
converge on Legia Warszawa’s training
ground, which sits at the foot of Stadion
Wojska Polskiego’s massive walls, going
head to head in front of their parents,
coaches and other spectators. No matter
that the weather has failed to oblige;
this year, the calendar is firmly on the
organisers’ side. With May Day falling
on a Monday and 3 May also a public
holiday in Poland, the Tuesday in-between
is a de facto holiday for many, offering
the perfect opportunity to hold the finals
of this national competition over three
uninterrupted days. Magdalena Urbańska,
head of the grassroots department at
the PZPN, which organises the event,
expresses her delight at its success as she
watches the various matches taking place:
“We have a total of 754 children taking
part in this event, playing for 64 different
teams. These are the national finals of a
competition that began at regional level
back in the autumn. We had more than
320,000 entries this year.” In terms of
participants, budget and organisation,
this is the biggest children’s football
competition in Europe.
Rome was not built in a day, however,
and this success is the result of a number
of years of hard work. While Poland’s
co-hosting of UEFA EURO 2012 with
More than 700 children
descended on Legia Warszawa’s
training ground for the first two
days of the national finals.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 09
Growing online presence
Maciej Sawicki manages many of the
PZPN’s initiatives. With his tall, athletic
frame and purposeful stride, the 38-yearold has the hallmarks of a former
footballer. He played for Legia Warszawa
and was capped at youth level in the late
1990s and early 2000s. When his playing
career was cut short by injury, he set out
on a highly successful excursion into
10 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
Ukraine had been a resounding success,
when Urbańska arrived at the PZPN in
late 2012 (with Zbigniew Boniek having
just been elected president of the
association), she found a machine that
needed a little oiling in places: “At that
point, there were two [grassroots]
competitions – one for Under-10s
and one for Under-12s. They were
two separate projects, so we combined
them to form a single competition. That
simplified things in terms of organisation
– establishing schedules, planning travel,
etc. It’s also better from a communication
perspective and as regards finding
sponsors. Then, in 2013, we realised that
there was also considerable demand and
great potential at Under-8 level. They
love playing football too, so we opened
the competition up to Under-8s as well.”
The teams that compete in the
competition are not club sides taking a
break from their league fixtures; they are
teams of friends put together by parents
or teachers – grassroots football in its
purest form.
The PZPN’s headquarters are
themselves a symbol of how far the
association has come since 2012. To reach
the offices, you have to take one of the
immense arteries that criss-cross Warsaw
and follow it out to the west of the city.
In a quiet district, just off the main road,
sits a group of modern buildings – the
kind where you would imagine major
corporations renting offices. This is
where the PZPN now calls ‘home’.
Maciej Sawicki, the association’s general
secretary, plays estate agent and gives
us a guided tour of the premises. Passing
a spiral staircase that leads up to the
second floor, he says: “Four and a half
years ago, we had just a few offices in
this wing of the building. Today, we
occupy all of both floors, with a hundred
or so people working here every day.”
academia, studying at Harvard and
completing the UEFA-supported MESGO
programme. His CV, which combines
inside football knowledge and academic
qualifications, made him the ideal
candidate for the PZPN, although he
maintains that he never intended to work
there: “I had always dreamed of
becoming a footballer. After playing
professionally, I never thought, when my
career came to an end, that I would
return to football as an employee of the
PZPN! But I had business experience and I
came from a football background, so I
had what it took to take on this job.
Football is my passion and my life. At the
same time, I know how to manage
projects. I have various administrative
responsibilities. My team and I ensure that
things keep moving and get done.” The
PZPN also has a real asset in Zbigniew
Boniek, a popular figure who has just
been voted onto the UEFA Executive
Committee, and Sawicki is proud to be
working alongside him: “It’s great to have
someone like him leading the organisation. We’ve already made lots of
progress over the last five years, and his
popularity has helped. He is one of the
most famous Poles in the world.”
Boniek – Polish football’s star player
of the 1980s – took charge of the
organisation in late 2012, succeeding
Grzegorz Lato – Poland’s star of the
1970s – who had been president of the
PZPN for four years. When they arrived,
Boniek and his team found an association
that had struggled to establish a real
bond with its fans, as Sawicki recalls:
“In 2012, we had major problems with
public opinion. We were poorly thought
of; the PZPN had a very negative image.”
Today, the association’s approval ratings
are constantly improving, with the
percentage of people having a good
opinion of it increasing from 18% in 2012
to 45% in 2016. “That’s the thing that
I’m most proud of. We’ve established a
relationship of trust between the fans
and the association,” he says, adding that
the PZPN has also been helped by the
national team’s results. Poland were 70th
in the FIFA rankings in 2012; now they are
11th, ahead of both Italy and England.
The PZPN has also made spectacular
progress in its online presence, especially
on social media. The number of fans
following the association on Facebook
rose from 61,000 in January 2014 to
more than 500,000 in January 2016 –
an increase of 725% – and it is now
approaching a million ‘likes’. Meanwhile,
the number of people subscribing to the
PZPN’s YouTube channel increased by
“More people are signing up every year, and
we are also getting increasing numbers of
girls. Each of the country’s 16 regions has
sent two teams – a boys’ team and a girls’
team. And when registrations opened last
autumn, 38% of the people signing up were girls.
That’s incredible.”
Magdalena Urbańska
Head of the grassroots department at the PZPN
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 11
seeing them on TV, where they are
broadcast by national media, Wiśniowski
estimates that some of his productions
have been seen by more than 5 million
people in Poland. As a former journalist,
he also endeavours to provide more
serious, in-depth content: “We’ve done
some reports about Poles playing abroad
for foreign clubs. We did one with
Lewandowski in Munich, one with Milik
in Naples … It’s a good way to inspire
young players, who see just how far they
can go if they work hard. We also make
real programmes in our TV studio at the
PZPN headquarters. It’s good to have fun
YouTube stars
Łukasz Wiśniowski, who manages the
association’s YouTube channel, explains:
“We make lots of behind-the-scenes
videos of the team, and during the EURO
we uploaded one a day. We really get
inside the team: we stay in the same
hotel; we go into their rooms; and the
players joke around with us as if we were
part of the team. They’re very natural,
and the results are excellent.” Those
videos are almost like a TV series,
Wiśniowski explains. The Polish public has
really taken to them, and to their
favourite players: “Take Artur Jędrzejczyk,
for example – a defender playing for
Legia Warszawa. He’s not the most wellknown of players; he doesn’t have any
social media accounts; he’s not on
Instagram or Twitter. But he’s very
popular in Poland, because he’s the star
of these videos. He’s very funny –
constantly making jokes – and people
love it.” Between people watching the
videos directly on YouTube, people
watching them on other sites and people
710% over the same period. Here, too,
the national team’s results have had an
incredible impact. Several videos showing
the players unwinding at EURO 2016 have
been viewed more than a million times.
videos, but we also want to create
a debate – be it about training, the
development of clubs, coaches, whatever.
That kind of thing may be less
entertaining, but it’s every bit as
Like all of his colleagues at the PZPN,
Wiśniowski is delighted to have Boniek
leading the organisation: “He’s heavily
involved in the promotion of our content.
He has one of the most-followed Twitter
accounts in the country, with 800,000
followers – far more than the
association’s account. He posts links on
his account, showcasing our work. He
helps us enormously.” The PZPN’s own
Twitter account is also something of a
success story, having increased its
followers by more than 500% between
January 2014 and January 2016. That
vertiginous growth is the result of a
highly ambitious digital strategy, as
exemplified by the PZPN’s creation of a
gigantic online platform, which went live
in 2014. That site – Laczynaspilka.pl –
takes its name from the PZPN’s slogan
‘Łączy nas piłka’, which means ‘United
by football’. The concept is a simple one,
and Maciej Sawicki sums it up in a
couple of sentences: “The site fosters
communication between everyone
involved in the world of football –
administrators, fans, players, referees,
children, coaches, and so on. Everyone
can go there and access information on
the national teams, as well as seeing the
results of hundreds of matches taking
place across the country every week.”
The vast majority of those matches are
at amateur level, but the site treats them
in exactly the same way as it does the
professional game. “Even for children’s
matches, the result is online 15 minutes
after the final whistle. Within 24 hours,
a match report is published, showing the
line-ups, goalscorers, substitutes, and so
on. That creates interest, with everyone
wanting to see the results for their team
or their competition.”
A draw ceremony
to rival the pros
In less than three years, that portal
has become one of the country’s most
frequented websites, with hundreds of
thousands of unique visitors and about
5 million page views every month.
The project’s success owes much to
UEFA and the funding provided by its
HatTrick programme, as Sawicki is quick
to acknowledge: “We are grateful to
UEFA, who have supported us financially
in this project through the HatTrick
programme. That has allowed us to
engage with large numbers of fans, which
has greatly contributed to the promotion
and development of football in Poland.”
The PZPN’s endeavours to engage with
people online have been accompanied
by other efforts to reach out to fans up
and down the country. The ‘Z Podwórka
na Stadion’ competition is one such
initiative. For months, teams have been
competing in each of Poland’s 16 regions,
seeking to qualify for the national finals in
Warsaw. Magdalena Urbańska is pleased
with her project’s success on numerous
levels: “More people are signing up every
year, and we are also getting increasing
numbers of girls. Each of the country’s
16 regions has sent two teams – a boys’
team and a girls’ team. And when
registrations opened last autumn, 38%
of the people signing up were girls.
That’s incredible.” Women’s football in
general is booming in Poland, with the
PZPN using special funding from the
UEFA women’s football development
programme launched in 2012 to run
coach education programmes for women
and establish a national championship
for Under-13 girls. Women’s football clubs
have also been given new equipment,
such as cameras to film their matches
and training sessions.
Urbańska lists more of the
competition’s successes: “People have
come from all over the country to take
part in these finals – some from far away
and from small towns out in the
countryside. The association pays for
their travel and hotels, with many players
visiting the capital for the very first time.
Emotions run high; it’s about far more
than just playing football. The most
important thing is that they have fun
and carry on playing football after the
competition has ended.”
This year, in order to give participants
the full tournament experience, the PZPN
decided to go big, organising a grand
draw ceremony on 29 April, the eve of
the event, to determine the groups for
the finals. The location of the draw –
“In the qualifying
competition for
EURO 2016, we
had the second
best crowd figures
in Europe, with an average
of 50,000 spectators.
And that has continued
in our qualifying matches
for the World Cup.”
Maciej Sawicki
General secretary of the PZPN
right outside Warsaw’s imposing National
Stadium on the right bank of the river
Vistula – was no coincidence, as although
the first two days of football were set to
take place at Legia Warszawa’s training
ground, the finals for each category
would be played at the National Stadium
on 2 May, just before the Polish Cup final.
As the children filed in to take their
seats at the glamorous draw ceremony,
they were accompanied by the roar of
drums, with the hundreds of seats filling
up in no time at all. As with all the
biggest competitions, the people with
the weighty responsibility of conducting
the draw picked the balls out under the
watchful eye of Zbigniew Boniek and
other PZPN officials. Also looking on
was Bielik, the association’s white eagle
mascot – another recent initiative that
has proved very popular with young fans.
Those formalities, which were conducted
with the utmost precision, were punctuated by musical performances by young
electro-violinist Tomasz Dolski, a local star
who made his name in a TV talent show.
Bringing football into
everyday lives
Maciej Sawicki stresses the competition’s
importance for the association: “That
is one of the most important things –
fostering and promoting grassroots
football.” Another initiative involves the
establishment of football academies
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 13
The tournament ended at the National Stadium
ahead of the Polish Cup final, in which Arka Gdynia
beat KKS Lech Poznań 2-1.
mind, the PZPN has concluded contracts
with numerous companies in recent years,
sending more than 250 different
licensed products to market.
Prachniak stands in front of a large
glass cabinet displaying a selection of
products, highlighting their commercial
success: “The products for children are
always popular; we sell a lot of diaries at
the beginning of the school year; and all
the children want a notebook with
Lewandowski on it! Our products are
available throughout the country.” The
PZPN sells all manner of things in the
colours of the national team – everything
from gadgets and accessories to pens and
chocolate bars – and business is booming.
Indeed, it was not for nothing that UEFA
awarded the PZPN the prize for the best
commercial partnership in its 2016 KISS
Marketing Awards. The PZPN currently
sells more than 11 million products a year,
has signed contracts with a total of 22
partners and organises everything itself,
without recourse to external agencies.
It also has exclusive ownership of the
image rights of its players, who are not
allowed to appear anywhere in the
national team’s colours without the
PZPN’s consent. “If they want to have
their photo taken with the shirt, they
have to ask us,” Prachniak says.
14 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
The PZPN’s YouTube channel and its behind-thescenes take on life in the national team is a hit with
the Polish public.
across Poland, allowing young players
to hone their skills free of charge with
the support of UEFA-qualified coaches.
“We call these ‘eagle academies’,”
Sawicki explains. “We have already
opened 25 in the last two years, and we
hope to make it to 45 in the near future.
Children come and take part in talentspotting days, with the best players being
selected to train at the academies. This
allows us to supply the clubs with good
players, and everything is paid for by the
association.” Magdalena Urbańska
stresses another advantage of all these
projects – the fact that they allow the
association to register all the football
fans in the country: “When people sign
up for a competition or a programme,
they go into our database. Our objective
is to identify as many people as possible
who play or are fans of football and to
communicate with them.”
In order to go further and make
football a bigger part of Polish people’s
everyday lives, the association has
launched a major sales programme for
licensed products. Agnieszka Prachniak,
head of the general secretary’s office,
provides an overview of the various
elements of this programme: “We
wanted to ensure that the programme
made commercial sense, and revenue
is reinvested. Developing and promoting
football are the most important things
for us. We are reaching out to people
and bringing supporters together – even
in the smallest of villages.” With this in
A popular figure in Poland, PZPN president Zbigniew
Boniek joined the children at the tournament.
Budget doubled in four years
The PZPN’s senior management are
pleased with how things are going,
but they have no intention of resting on
their laurels and want to see that growth
continue. The outlook remains bright,
with the PZPN continuing to profit from
the good results achieved by the men’s
national team, who lead their qualifying
group for the 2018 World Cup by some
distance. Moreover, thanks to the brandnew stadiums that were built for EURO
2012, fans are able to watch matches in
optimal conditions, much to the pleasure
of Maciej Sawicki: “In the qualifying
competition for EURO 2016, we had
the second best crowd figures in Europe,
with an average of 50,000 spectators.
And that has continued in our qualifying
matches for the World Cup.”
In June, Poland will play host to the
European Under-21 Championship finals,
and here, too, Sawicki has cause to smile:
“We have already sold 60% of all tickets.
Poland’s matches are all sold out,
as are the semi-finals and the final.”
Looking beyond the country’s grand
new stadiums hosting tens of thousands
of spectators, the PZPN wants to give
everyone the chance to play, and to do
so all year round: “We have more than
2,600 artificial mini-pitches. We also
intend to build covered pitches, so that
we can continue to play when conditions
are bad.”
“We wanted to ensure that the programme
made commercial sense, and revenue is
reinvested. Developing and promoting football
are the most important things for us. We are
reaching out to people and bringing supporters
together – even in the smallest of villages.”
Agnieszka Prachniak
Head of the PZPN general secretary’s office
The PZPN intends to continue on its
current path, redistributing money in
an intelligent manner and benefiting
from various opportunities and UEFA
programmes: “We have achieved all
of this with the aid of UEFA. We are
particularly grateful for the GROW
marketing support project, which is an
excellent initiative and has helped us
greatly. Without funding, it’s impossible
to implement good projects, but we’ve
also benefited from UEFA’s expertise.
The people at UEFA provide support by
giving us the benefit of their know-how
and experience, helping us to improve our
projects and make them truly effective.”
The PZPN’s budget has doubled in the
last four years, and Poland now has
350,000 active players. “That’s not a
huge number,” Sawicki says, explaining
that the target for the next few years is
to get 3% of the Polish population –
more than a million people – playing the
game. It is clear that the Polish eagle has
not yet finished spreading its wings.
Inter FS have claimed their fourth UEFA Futsal Cup title after an eight-year wait,
seeing off Sporting CP 7-0 in an otherwise closely fought final four in Almaty.
hen Inter FS won three UEFA Futsal
Cups between 2004 and 2009,
they seemed set to dominate the
European club game. But after losing the 2010
final in extra time to SL Benfica, the Madrid
side began to find themselves eclipsed. At first
Barcelona took over as the pre-eminent
Spanish force, and then when Inter returned
to Europe, their next final was in 2016, when
as hosts they lost to competition debutants
TTG Ugra Yugorsk of Russia.
Twelve months on, Inter are European
champions again. And while they fell short
on home territory last year, Jesús Velasco’s
side travelled more than 8,000km to Almaty
and defeated Sporting Clube de Portugal by a
record 7-0 margin in this year’s final.
As well as Sporting, holders Ugra qualified
for the final four along with Kairat Almaty,
the 2013 and 2015 champions who were
picked to host the event. Kairat qualified in
2011, and coincidentally Sporting finished
16 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
second on that occasion too, and Kairat also
emulated their bronze medal from six seasons
ago this time around.
For the 2018/19
season, the
competition will
be renamed the UEFA
Futsal Champions
Record number of teams
A record 52 teams entered the competition
but in the end, of the four seeds given byes
to the elite round only FC Dynamo missed the
finals, pipped by Sporting on goal difference.
The draw held at half-time of Kazakhstan’s
football Super Cup – won by Kairat Almaty’s
namesake 11-a-side club – paired the hosts
with Inter, and Ugra against Sporting. At the
end of April, the clubs arrived for the finals
themselves, held at Almaty Arena, newly
built for the 2017 Winter Universiade.
Sporting, the only club in the finals to
have never won the title and the sole main
round survivors, started as outsiders against
Ugra but never looked it once play got under
way. The Portuguese team tore into their
opponents but it took until the second half
See-saw struggle
Despite the disappointment, around 8,000
fans were back at the arena two days later
to see Kairat tackle Ugra for bronze. And
they were well rewarded. Three times Ugra
led, only for Kairat to equalise swiftly each
time. Then the hosts edged ahead and
although Divanei put in an own goal he
then scored what seemed to be the winner
for Kairat. However, Marcênio struck with
just 20 seconds left to force penalties for
the sixth time in 11 third-place play-offs
(which unlike the other fixtures cannot go
to extra time).
Higuita, the Kairat and Kazakhstan
goalkeeper whose ability to roam outfield
with a powerful shot has been so key to
those teams’ rise up the futsal ranks, had
been relatively quiet by his standards but
the shoot-out allowed him to come to life,
and after he saved Ugra’s second kick from
Dmitri Lyskov, Kairat held their nerve and
Douglas Junior converted what proved to
be the winning penalty to make it 3-2.
Those first three games had gone to
the wire. The final did not. Once Fabricio
Bastezini put Inter into a seventh-minute
lead, Sporting were playing catch-up.
Sporting did not wilt, even after Lolo
made it 2-0 before half-time, but the start
of the second period proved fatal for the
Lions’ chances. First Ricardinho feigned
a crossed kick-in, only to tap it to Rafael
to lash in. Then, soon after, Ortiz showed
similar trickiness, again making to smash a
free-kick but instead subtly back-heeling to
28 April 2017
TTG-Ugra Yugorsk 1-2 Sporting
Clube de Portugal
Referees: Saša Tomić (Croatia) /
Gábor Kovács (Hungary)
Inter FS 3-2 Kairat Almaty
Referees: Bogdan Sorescu (Romania) /
Alessandro Malfer (Italy)
30 April 2017
Match for third place
TTG-Ugra Yugorsk 5-5 Kairat Almaty
Kairat win 2-3 on penalties
Referees: Alessandro Malfer (Italy) /
Gábor Kovács (Hungary)
Sporting Clube de Portugal 0-7 Inter FS
Referees: Saša Tomić (Croatia) /
Bogdan Sorescu (Romania)
Inter defender Lolo scored the second
of the Spaniards’ seven goals against
Sporting in the final, despite the best
efforts of Brazilian opponent Dieguinho.
allow Mario Rivillos to advance and score.
Not giving up, Sporting went for broke with
Merlim as flying goalkeeper, but that allowed
Inter to score three times from their own half
into an empty net, the first by Rivillos and
the next two brilliant displays of technique by
Ricardinho. Never before had a team scored
seven goals in a UEFA Futsal Cup final.
Welcome to the Futsal
Champions League
In a season where he became only the
seventh player to pass 40 UEFA Futsal Cup
goals, the final four’s top scorer, Ricardinho,
celebrated his second title after 2010. As a
teenager he lost the 2004 final with Benfica
against Inter. “This club needs to be at the top
in Europe again,” Ricardinho said. “Last year,
we could not win this trophy at home but
this evening, with the 7-0, we showed we
are the best.”
It was also a second title for veterans of
Inter’s 2009 triumph Ortiz and Jesús Herrero.
Inter now stand two UEFA Futsal Cups clear
of any other club, while Spain can boast eight
victories in the 16 editions to date.
As for the competition itself, it will undergo
its second revamp in 2017/18 ahead of being
renamed the UEFA Futsal Champions League
in 2018/19. The first relaunch saw the
introduction of the final four in 2006/07;
next season the three highest-ranked nations
(Spain, Russia and Portugal) will receive two
automatic entries for the first time, with Italy
also beneffitng from two berths thanks to
a Spanish victory this season. Whoever the
contenders are, though, it will be a tough
task to deny Inter a fifth crown.
for Alex Merlim and Dieguinho to put them
in control before Vladislav Shayakhmetov
set up a nervous finish. This 2-1 loss was
Ugra’s first experience of European defeat.
That was swiftly followed by the
showdown between Inter and Kairat,
backed by a crowd of 10,238, the second
highest in UEFA Futsal Cup history. If the
first semi-final had sometimes been cagey,
this was a pulsating affair, with Cabreúva
putting Kairat ahead early on. Ricardinho
then equalised after another of his magical
skill tricks, only for Igor to make it 2-1 to
the hosts at the break. Inter levelled again
when Ricardinho converted a penalty
and it was his corner, turned in by Ortiz’s
deflected shot, that won the game with
78 seconds left.
That put Inter into their seventh final,
one ahead of Dynamo’s record, and in fact
their record of coming through semi-finals
now stands at played six, won six (there
were no semi-finals in 2003/04).
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 17
Invented in Uruguay in 1930, futsal is now played all around the world. For many years,
Europe lagged behind, but it will soon boast a number of new competitions, boosting
futsal’s media profile and supporting growth in the sport.
South American spread
European spread
Futsal appears
in Europe
João Havelange becomes
FIFA President
João Havelange becomes
FIFUSA President
Getty Images
Creation of FIFUSA
in Rio de Janeiro
Futsal invented by
Juan Carlos Ceriani
he UEFA Champions League
will soon have a new little sister.
As of the 2018/19 season, the UEFA
Futsal Cup, which is contested by all the
top clubs in Europe, will be renamed the
UEFA Futsal Champions League. This new
identity, which forms part of the futsal
development strategy that was unveiled
by the UEFA Executive Committee on
4 April, will help the competition to
cement its position within the sport.
A couple of brand new competitions
are also being launched with a view to
supporting the development of futsal –
a European Women’s Futsal Championship
and a European Under-19 Futsal
Championship. Moreover, from now on,
the Futsal EURO will take place every
four years, with 16 teams taking part,
rather than being contested by 12 teams
every two years. These new and improved
competitions aim to respond to the strong
growth in demand in Europe, which had
previously been slow in taking to futsal in
comparison with South America. Indeed,
while the precise origins of football are a
matter of debate, with nobody able to pin
it down to a single creator, the birthplace
of futsal is indisputable.
Impressive crowds turned out for this
season’s UEFA Futsal Cup finals in
Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the indoor
game’s popularity starts to soar.
A visionary inventor
Juan Carlos Ceriani invented futsal – which
was originally called ‘fútbol de salón’ in
Spanish or ‘futebol de salão’ in Portuguese
– in Uruguay in 1930 in response to the
continual flooding of outdoor pitches
during the country’s rainy season, which
sometimes prevented his pupils from
playing football for long periods of time.
Far from being a simple derivative of
football played indoors, futsal was
devised as a whole new sport, taking
inspiration from basketball (as regards the
number of players), handball (as regards
the pitch), water polo (as regards the role
of the referee) and, of course, football.
Futsal’s original philosophy stemmed
from its inventor’s personality. Ceriani
was a sports teacher working for the
ecumenical YMCA movement, which
played a key role in the spread of futsal
in South America. In setting out the rules
of futsal for the first time in 1933, and
disseminating them via the YMCA
network, Ceriani laid the foundations
for the sport’s future development.
Those original rules still represent the
heart and soul of the sport.
In the mid-1950s, the first regional
futsal associations were established in
Brazil – in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Then, in 1971, the sport’s growth was
given a boost by the creation of an
international governing body, FIFUSA,
which essentially comprised the national
associations of South American countries
at that point and sought to promote
‘futebol de salão’ around the world.
FIFUSA’s first president was the Brazilian
João Havelange, who held that position
until he was elected president of FIFA
in 1974.
Shortly after taking up his new role
at the head of world football’s governing
body, Havelange announced that he
wanted FIFA to take control of ‘futebol
de salão’, and he spent the rest of his
24 years in office seeking to make that a
reality. In an effort to differentiate its sport
from football – and itself from FIFA – and
to get the whole world speaking the same
language, FIFUSA came up with the
Global spread
First FIFA Futsal
World Cup
First European Futsal
(25 associations)
2017-18 European
Futsal Championship
(48 associations)
UEFA Archives
First UEFA club competition
UEFA Futsal Cup
(27 clubs)
2016/17 Futsal Cup
(52 clubs)
The Nedelya Cup was popular in
the Soviet Union in the 1970s,
when various forms of futsal also
appeared in western Europe.
name ‘futsal’ (a contraction of ‘fútbol’ and
‘salón’) in 1985. That was three years after
the first ever FIFUSA World Championship,
which was won by Brazil on home soil.
The rivalry between the two governing
bodies continues to this day, with the
World Futsal Association (the successor
to FIFUSA) organising international
competitions outside of FIFA’s control with
slightly different rules. For its part, world
football’s governing body organised its
first ever FIFA Futsal World Championship
(later renamed the FIFA Futsal World Cup)
in the Netherlands in 1989, where Brazil
once again took the trophy.
After several decades of being played
primarily in South America, futsal is now
a truly international phenomenon, with
120 countries taking part in the qualifying
competition for the 2016 Futsal World Cup
in Colombia. Although Argentina won that
tournament, continuing South America’s
dominance of the event (six of the eight
tournaments have been won by either
Brazil or Argentina), the presence of
Azerbaijan and Egypt in the quarter-finals
and Iran in the semi-finals is a perfect
example of the universal nature of
modern-day futsal. Indeed, ‘smaller’
countries find it easier to be competitive
in futsal than they do in football.
Europe’s gradual uptake
Europe was the setting for the birth of
modern football back in the mid-19th
century, but it does not have the same
filial bond with futsal. Although a form
of futsal became popular in the Soviet
Union in the 1950s, with ‘mini-football’
being declared an official sport, it was
not until the 1970s that futsal made it
to western Europe, South American
immigrants bringing it with them to
Portugal and Spain and the YMCA again
playing an important role in the sport’s
spread. At that point, the rules of futsal
were still far from uniform. Indeed, it was
not until FIFA took control of the sport’s
organisation that rules were harmonised
across Europe.
In 1974, the UEFA Executive Committee
established a Committee for Indoor and
Women’s Football in a bid to standardise
the sport, which was being played in two
different formats – both five-a-side and
eight-a-side – on pitches of differing sizes,
with various different types of ball,
The first attempt
Organisation of a
final tournament
in Cordoba
20 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
Birth of the UEFA
Futsal Cup
UEFA special workshop
The 18 UEFA non-participating
countries are invited to the
European Futsal Championship
2005 in Ostrava, Czech Republic
The consolidation
The European Futsal Championship becomes
part of the Eurotop programme. The ‘final
four’ club competition is launched
The European Futsal
Championship was born
The UEFA Executive
Committee approves
the proposal to launch
a continental competition
Starting 5 +
2 x 20min periods (actual playing time)
20m x 40m (handball pitch) and 3m x 2m (handball goal)
5 cumulative fouls (10m penalty kick, 60% goal ratio)
2min penalty for red cards (one man down until a goal is scored)
time-out per team per half
UEFA Archives
Flying goalkeeper rule
Played mostly on a wooden floor (or Taraflex, PVC tiles)
Playas de Castellón, winners of the first-ever
UEFA Futsal Cup in 2002
The product
First ever Futsal EURO
with 12 teams. Attendance
records in both competitions
of the UEFA Executive Committee, a
questionnaire was sent to all of UEFA’s
member associations – only 13 of which
organised national futsal championships at
that point – in order to establish a picture
of the state of futsal in Europe. It was also
around that time that the sport’s rules
were harmonised and FIFA drew up its
first list of specialist futsal referees.
In autumn 1995, UEFA organised three
qualifying groups for the 1996 Futsal
World Championship, as well as an
invitational tournament in Cordoba in
January 1996 for Europe’s top teams,
which was won by Spain. Following the
success of that tournament, the UEFA
Executive Committee decided in December
1997 to launch the European Futsal
Championship. A total of 25 countries
Taking root
14,300 spectators watched
the Futsal EURO
semi-final, and nearly
100,000 the whole
20-match tournament
took part in the qualifying competition for
the inaugural Futsal EURO, which took
place in 1999.
With seven wins in ten tournaments,
Spain have dominated that competition.
They are also the second most successful
futsal nation at world level, behind Brazil,
having won the Futsal World Cup twice
– in 2000 and 2004. That success can be
attributed, in particular, to the role that
futsal plays in the development of their
young players, with numerous football
internationals – such as Xavi and Iniesta –
coming to the game via futsal.
In parallel, futsal’s growing popularity
within UEFA’s member associations
resulted, in March 2001, in the UEFA
Executive Committee agreeing to the
Futsal Committee’s request for a
More milestones
50 clubs in the club competition. New overall attendance
record in Belgrade Arena (113,820)
Getty Images
and with differing rules as to whether
the ball could be played against the
side panels or not. UEFA’s efforts had
no immediate impact and the committee
was disbanded in 1978 – a sport for which
national competitions were organised in
only five European countries was simply
not a priority.
It was not until December 1991 that
the draw was held for UEFA’s first ever
five-a-side qualifying tournaments – a
ten-team qualifying competition for the
1992 Futsal World Championship, which
took place in Hong Kong in November of
that year. Those mini-tournaments were
contested in Spain and Italy.
In 1993, at the instigation of Ángel
María Villar Llona, president of the Royal
Spanish Football Federation and a member
The next steps
Women’s futsal, youth
futsal, Futsal Champions
League, etc.
International futsal’s leading light, Ricardinho, in action for Portugal against Ukraine at Futsal EURO 2014
European club competition. And so, the
UEFA Futsal Cup was born, with clubs
from 27 different national associations
contesting the inaugural competition.
After qualifying via mini-tournaments,
eight clubs battled it out for continental
supremacy at a final tournament in Lisbon
in March 2002, with Spanish side Playas de
Castellón FS coming out on top. Fifteen
years on, a record 52 member associations
now take part in the competition.
The perfect complement
Futsal had long been the subject of
misconceptions, often being considered in
opposition to football and regarded as
competing with its ‘big brother’. That
explains why it was neglected for so long
in Europe – a continent where football’s
power is absolute. That perception has
changed significantly in recent years, with
the European approach to futsal now
mirroring that seen on the other side
of the Atlantic, where it has always
been regarded as an excellent player
development tool. Pelé, Ronaldo,
Ronaldinho, Neymar – the list of great
Brazilian players who started off playing
indoors is endless, with futsal preferred
to football for children under the age
of 12. The Brazilians were quick to
understand that football and futsal
complemented each other, especially
in terms of youth development.
With players seeing about 30% more
of the ball than they do in football,
futsal helps to improve ball control and
precision. The repetition of basic actions
aids the development of cognitive skills.
It is also perfect for certain fundamental
aspects of players’ development:
peripheral vision, decision-making,
the use of both feet, etc. The size of
the pitch – eight times smaller than a
football pitch – forces players not only to
think creatively in order to create
goalscoring opportunities, but also to
coordinate their positioning on the pitch,
which helps them to grasp tactical
principles and learn how to play as a
team. Should I push up and press my
opponents? Is it better to try to run with
the ball or give it to a team-mate? Should
I play this pass to someone’s feet or into
space? With limited space on the pitch,
a futsal player is forced to make lots of
decisions very quickly, with the result that
futsal is fun to play, but also challenging
from a technical, tactical and physical
perspective, requiring intense bursts
of energy. A good futsal player will be
comfortable on the ball, have a thorough
understanding of tactics and be capable
of rapid decision-making – skills that
can easily be transposed to football and
are valued by all coaches. Eighty-seven
years after its creation, futsal has
achieved the ideal position in its
relationship with football: it’s a sport
in its own right, it’s growing all around
the world (with an estimated 30 million
people playing it worldwide), and its
competitions are constantly gaining
in stature. And all the while it’s
complementing football and contributing
to footballers’ development.
Law 2 of the Futsal Laws of the
Game, which are decided by FIFA,
is very clear: “The ball may not
bounce less than 50cm or more
than 65cm on the first rebound
when dropped from a height of
2m.” The ball bounces less than
in football in order to encourage
teams to play the ball on the
ground and foster ball control and
technical skills. While some of the
rules of futsal clearly set it apart
from football (time-outs, unlimited
‘flying’ substitutions, fouls
accumulated per team not just per
player, etc.), futsal’s defining
feature is the ball. So much so that,
at one point, it even gave the sport
its name, with the Uruguayans
preferring the name ‘bola pesada’
– meaning ‘heavy ball’ – to ‘fútbol
de salón’ in the sport’s early days.
Although it is smaller than a
football – with a circumference of
62–64cm, compared with 68–
70cm in football – a futsal ball
weighs roughly the same as its
football equivalent (between 400g
and 440g), which makes it seem
heavier and allows it to achieve
that reduced bounce.
Getty Images
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 22
If you want to understand the differences between football and futsal,
the numbers speak for themselves!
average playing time
per player
(2016/17 UEFA
Futsal Cup)
Each player on the pitch makes up
20% of the team in futsal
average playing time
per player
Each player on the pitch makes up
9% of the team in football
(2016/17 UEFA
Champions League)
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 23
24 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
Having been pipped at the post in the final last year, Jesús Velasco led Inter FS to victory
in the UEFA Futsal Cup this season, earning the Spanish club their fourth European title.
Velasco looks back on his team’s road to success and offers his take on the evolution of
the indoor game, drawing on a wealth of experience both in Italy and his native Spain.
nter FS last lifted the UEFA
Futsal Cup in 2009. After falling
at the final hurdle in 2016,
how do you explain your
success this season?
One of the main reasons is that, this
season, virtually all our players arrived
at the final tournament in good physical
shape, in contrast to last season. The
final that we lost in 2016 also helped
us enormously to prepare for this year’s
comeback, when we were determined
to take our revenge.
Was the team better equipped
to win this season?
We were able to prepare better in
numerous ways. We approached the
competition differently, with a clearer
idea of what we had to do to win it.
The fact that the players were injury-free
was also a major factor.
“All coaches know they
have to win matches, but
it’s even more the case at
Inter than elsewhere. Here,
if you lose three matches
in a row, it’s a disaster.”
Since you joined Inter in 2012, the
club has won countless trophies
in Spain without ever managing
to lift the UEFA Futsal Cup. Did
your recent victory fill you with
more relief than joy?
From a personal point of view, it made
me very happy. It was a great moment.
But from a professional perspective it also
felt like a huge weight had been lifted.
The club has UEFA Futsal Cup ambitions
virtually every season and to have finally
won it is a huge relief, both for me and for
the club as a whole. Inter FS is a club made
to win titles, and the Futsal Cup is the
most prestigious there is, so it was about
time we won it after several years of
missing out.
The UEFA Futsal Cup finals are
a unique tournament, with two
matches – semi-finals and final –
in the space of three days, against
the best clubs in Europe. How do
you prepare for such intense,
high-level competition?
Our training method is fairly intense,
which means that our players can recover
very quickly. Playing two high-level
matches in three days is not a problem
for our team because we are used to
playing three matches in three days in
the Spanish Cup. It’s a very useful way
of helping us prepare for the challenge
of the finals.
The 2017 finals were played
in Almaty, Kazakhstan, more
than 8,000km from Madrid,
with a four-hour time difference
between the two cities. Did
this make the journey and
preparing for the competition
more difficult?
Given the distance, we tried to find
the quickest way of flying between
the two cities and looked into chartering
a direct flight to Almaty. But we gave
up on that idea in the end because it
was too expensive. We took a regular
flight in the end, with a stopover in
Frankfurt. We arrived in Kazakhstan
three days before the semi-finals, to
give us time to recover from the journey
and get used to the time difference.
Everything went as planned and the
players were in perfect physical
condition for both matches.
Do you think the standard at
the UEFA Futsal Cup finals is
the highest in the world?
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 25
I don’t think you’ll find a better standard
anywhere else today. It’s the moment
when the top clubs reach their peak, all
aiming to become European champions.
As winners, we will never forget the 2017
edition, of course. On both technical and
tactical levels the standard was very high
and all four teams stood a genuine chance
of winning. For all these reasons, I believe
this year’s edition was the best so far.
Portugal’s Ricardinho was
man of the match in both your
games in this year’s finals. What
role did he play in your victory?
Ricardinho played a vital role in our
success. When he’s at his best, he can
make a huge difference, especially in
attack. He’s also able to defend with
high intensity. He was determined to
shine and to finally lift the UEFA Futsal
Cup with Inter. He showed that he
could be relied on when it mattered
and was one of our keys to victory.
Do you think he’s on a different
level to the rest of your squad?
He’s a player like any other, in the sense
that he’s part of the team, but at the same
time you can say he’s on a different level
because he does extraordinary things on
the pitch. He’s extremely creative, which
– combined with his intelligence, technical
skill and physical strength – makes him a
very special player. He plays for the team,
fits in perfectly with our style of play and
often finds ways of breaking the deadlock
when matches are tight.
When he scores an outstanding
goal like the 2-2 equaliser
against Kairat Almaty in the
semi-final, are you still taken
aback or does nothing he does
surprise you any more, having
coached him for a number
of seasons now?
It’s the type of goals he scores that
makes Ricardinho so special. He has it all:
the physical qualities needed to make quick
changes of pace, technical skills that enable
him to beat three opponents in one move,
and tactical intelligence that helps him to
find space on the pitch. I’m used to seeing
him score goals like that now and pull off
other incredible moves.
He’s a very creative player.
As a coach, do you try to give
him as much freedom as possible?
I give him very general instructions.
He assimilates our game plan perfectly,
both defensively and in attack, but he
also has plenty of freedom to do what
he wants. Sometimes, this can cost us
goals, because he makes a mistake and
loses the ball in a dangerous area, but we
have to let him take risks so that he can
produce those game-changing moments.
In last season’s final, Jesús Velasco and his team
lost out to Russian debutants Ugra Yugorsk,
who beat the hosts 4-3 in Guadalajara.
He has already been voted the
world’s best player four times
(in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016).
“I would like to see the
game get faster in the
future. However, I’m afraid
it’ll become slower unless
the rules change.”
26 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
Ricardinho and his team-mates took it to the
wire against Kairat in the semi-finals in Almaty
but snatched a 3-2 win.
on this system a lot in training. Because we
win most of our matches, our opponents
often play without a goalkeeper towards
the end, in an attempt to get back into
the match, and we’ve developed strong
tactical discipline that helps us to take
advantage of our opponents’ mistakes
and score from a long way out, as we
did in the final against Sporting.
In this season’s final, after a
tight opening period, Inter
dominated against Sporting CP,
coming out 7-0 winners. In the last
few minutes, you got three goals
with long-distance shots from
your own half, while your
opponents were without a
goalkeeper. Is this a tactic you
work on a lot in training?
It’s something we’re working on more
and more. In futsal, you can put an
outfield player in goal, which is something
that a lot of teams often do to give them
a numerical advantage on the pitch
when they have possession of the ball.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of it, but
we have to be adaptable and we work
With four titles, Inter have won
the UEFA Futsal Cup more times
than anyone else. What is it like
to work at such a prestigious club?
Firstly, I have an advantage over other
coaches because our club has greater
resources than the others, which means
we can build a large squad of high-calibre
players. I have the privilege of being able
to choose from a squad of 15 players, all
of whom are capable of being first-team
regulars. But it’s also a huge responsibility,
because the team is expected to win titles
every season. All coaches know they have
to win matches, but it’s even more the
case at Inter than elsewhere. Here, if you
lose three matches in a row, it’s a disaster.
The Spanish championship is very
competitive, with a large number
of teams competing for the title.
Is it an advantage at European
level to be playing high-level
matches on a regular basis?
Playing in a tough league is an advantage
as long as it doesn’t mean your players
suffer injuries as a result, as has been
the case for us over the last two seasons.
In a very competitive league, you have
tighter games, they’re more physical
and injuries can mount up. It’s tricky if
four or five of your players are injured
for important occasions such as the
UEFA Futsal Cup finals.
“I think opportunities to bring the goalkeeper out
should be limited and it should only be done by teams
that want to score goals rather than those that just
want to keep hold of the ball, which is sometimes the
case at the moment.”
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 27
“At the top level, futsal
and football are very
different. But there are
some areas in which we
can learn from each other:
training methods, technical
work, individual tactics,
attacking play, and so on.”
You coached in Italy for a number
of seasons. Is there a real cultural
difference between Italian and
Spanish futsal?
Italian futsal is more physical and the
playing systems there are less flexible than
in Spain. The players are very disciplined
and have less room for manoeuvre,
whereas Spanish players have more
freedom and can be creative. Also, the
standard of goalkeeping in Spain is the
best in the world, which makes it more
difficult to score goals.
In what areas have futsal
players improved the most
in recent years?
They have improved both strategically
and physically. These days, players are
tactically very disciplined and much
stronger physically; they’re quicker,
more resilient and more powerful.
How do you see the game of
futsal developing over the next
few years?
I would like to see the game get faster in
the future. However, I’m afraid it’ll become
slower unless the rules change. At the
moment, coaches can do little more
than make sure their teams defend well,
28 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
What have been the biggest
changes in futsal since you
began coaching in the 1990s?
The rule changes have had a big impact.
Before, the goalkeeper wasn’t allowed
to leave the area and there was a lot
more room in the attacking third.
Now, goalkeepers can come out, there’s
less space, and that’s made it easier
to defend. The opportunity to attack
with five outfield players against four
also makes the closing stages of
matches more exciting.
take advantage of dead-ball situations
and have strong ‘5 v 4’ [flying goalkeeper]
tactics. Futsal is a great sport to watch
when it’s fast-moving, when there
are plenty of one-on-ones, when the
ball moves quickly from one end to
the other …
I think opportunities to bring the
goalkeeper out should be limited
and it should only be done by teams
that want to score goals rather than
those that just want to keep hold of
the ball, which is sometimes the case
at the moment.
What rules would you change
to ensure that futsal develops
in the way you would like it to?
That’s a difficult question. For example,
In 2018/19, the UEFA Futsal Cup
will be renamed the UEFA Futsal
Champions League. European
Women’s and Under-19 Futsal
Inter have links with Club
Atlético de Madrid. Do you have
any contact with Atlético coach
Diego Simeone and his staff?
The two clubs are linked at administrative
level and they’re working on a cooperation
agreement, but I don’t know yet what
exactly it’s going to involve. I’ve never
spoken to Diego Simeone, but he’s
clearly someone I would like to talk to.
He’s a coach who can instil a lot in his
players, so it would be great to establish
professional links with him.
Generally speaking, can futsal
coaches draw inspiration from
Championships are also being
introduced in 2018. Are you
pleased to see UEFA doing
more with futsal?
These are very important decisions, and
ones that have been well received in the
futsal world. UEFA wants to develop our
sport and, in the years to come, there
should be more and more teams not only
in the men’s competitions but also in the
women’s and youth events. It’s our job
to make futsal a spectacular sport that
attracts spectators. Futsal is already a
fascinating sport to watch when it’s played
at a fast pace. When it’s slower, it’s much
less interesting for everyone. Futsal needs
to be spectacular to keep everyone happy.
With nine domestic titles under his belt – six from Italy and three from Spain – Velasco had his sights
firmly set on European glory.
“In my 20-year career, I’ve
never run the same training
session twice. You always
have to keep the players
on their toes and guide
them towards achieving
the club’s objectives.”
the work of football coaches,
and vice versa?
At the top level, the two sports are
very different. But there are some
areas in which we can learn from each
other: training methods, technical
work, individual tactics, attacking play,
and so on.
Do you watch other indoor
team sports, such as handball
or basketball, for inspiration?
The main reason I watch these sports
is because I enjoy sport in general.
I think you can learn things anywhere
and it’s important to always be
thinking about what you can learn
from watching a coaching session
at youth level, or one in handball,
volleyball or some other sport. If you
think creatively, you can get ideas
from almost any sport. As a coach,
you should always be trying to improve
and reinvent yourself. In my 20-year
career, I’ve never run the same training
session twice. You always have to
keep the players on their toes and
guide them towards achieving the
club’s objectives. Coaching is a great
way to spend your days. I love what
I’m doing right now!
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 29
A new name has been added to the UEFA Youth League’s short roll of honour, with FC Salzburg
prevailing over FC Barcelona, SL Benfica and Real Madrid CF at Colovray stadium at the end of April.
or the fourth successive year, the
semi-finals and the final of the UEFA
Youth League took place in the Swiss
town of Nyon. The Austrians joined two-­
time champions Chelsea FC and 2013/14
victors Barcelona as winners of the Lennart
Johansson Trophy after three sold-out
matches played in glorious conditions.
They did it the hard way, too,
eliminating several high-profile teams
en route to Nyon – namely, Manchester
City FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC and
Club Atlético de Madrid – after easing
past FK Vardar and FC Kairat Almaty
in earlier rounds.
The calibre of the opposition that
Salzburg overcame in Switzerland was
just as impressive. They were behind for
some time in their semi-final, trailing 1-0
to Barcelona until just after the hour
mark, but then Marco Rose’s energetic
side responded with two unanswered
goals, substitute Patson Daka
scoring the second of them on his
30 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
debut in the competition. Cue a flurry
of backflips by a player who had already
fired Zambia to victory at the U-20 Africa
Cup of Nations the previous month.
“I’m beyond happy,” said Rose.
“When you look at how confidently
the team played – how we attacked –
you have to be proud. Thanks to the
boys we can continue this journey.
Now it’s on to the final, and we’re looking
forward to it. It was a fantastic team
performance. The boys did outstandingly
– particularly to come back from a goal
down. It was excellent.”
Hannes Wolf, who equalised and
then set up the winner for Patson, added:
“We wanted to push them back with our
pressing. We weren’t too bad in the first
half, but we went behind. In the second
half it worked very well.”
Similar narrative
The final was strikingly similar. This time,
Salzburg were a goal down against Benfica
Salzburg’s Patson Daka in action
in the final against Benfica.
until the 72nd minute, when Patson
headed in the equaliser from Wolf’s
corner. Fellow substitute Alexander
Schmidt, making his first appearance
since November because of injury, swiftly
completed the turnaround, watched
by Rui Costa, Nuno Gomes and UEFA
president Aleksander Čeferin.
That victory represented a belated
birthday present for Salzburg captain
Sandro Ingolitsch, who turned 20 just
six days before the final. It also meant
that Rose’s charges finished the Youth
League season unbeaten, having managed
a competition-best 29 goals in their
9 matches.
“I can’t describe how proud I am of
them,” explained Rose. “I have said the
same after every match – Manchester City,
Paris, Atlético and Barcelona – and I’m
delighted that they’ve taken the final step
today and not come away empty-handed.
This victory will stay with us forever.”
Wolf – who provided three assists in
Nyon – and Mergim Berisha both scored
seven goals in the competition. Those
forwards were two of the three players
with first-team experience in Rose’s final
tournament squad. The other, Amadou
Haidara, struck on his senior debut in an
Austrian Cup tie less than three weeks
before travelling to the tournament.
When asked how good his team could
become, Rose replied: “They can go far if
they work hard. All of them have a lot of
potential, but they need to work because
this is not the end. They need to improve,
to develop, in order to progress, but a lot
of them are ready for that, so I hope we
will see some of them in their respective
national teams.”
Benfica runners-up again
That loss to Salzburg was the second
defeat in a Youth League final for Benfica
and their coach, João Tralhão, who was
also in charge when the Eagles were
beaten 3-0 by Barcelona three years ago.
“We knew Salzburg were a tough side,
but we played very well,” Tralhão said.
“We could have won; we should have
won. My players did very well and showed
what they can do. They fought hard,
but today they just didn’t have luck on
their side.
“Salzburg are a very strong team,”
he said, “and they pushed us hard at
certain points in the game, but we
should’ve controlled those periods better.
Those five minutes [when Salzburg
scored twice] did for us.”
The Portuguese expatriate community
turned out in force to support Tralhão’s
team, and they had plenty to smile about
in the first half of the final. Cheered on
vociferously by a group of flag-waving
fans, Benfica took the lead in the 29th
minute via the head of José Gomes.
At that point, he, João Filipe, Mesaque
Dju and Gedson Fernandes were all set
to add the Youth League to the European
Under-17 Championship title that they
had won with Portugal in Azerbaijan
11 months earlier.
The Portuguese side also gave their fans
plenty to cheer about in their semi-final,
with Filipe and João Felix both scoring
twice as Benfica beat Real Madrid 4-2.
This was the third time in four seasons
that Real Madrid had been knocked out
at the semi-final stage, following similar
defeats in 2013/14 and 2015/16.
Semi-finals – 21 April 2017
FC Barcelona 1-2 FC Salzburg
Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia)
Real Madrid CF 2-4 SL Benfica
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (Poland)
Final – 24 April 2017
SL Benfica 1-2 FC Salzburg
Referee: Ali Papabiyik (Turkey)
Guti’s side conceded three goals in the
first 19 minutes, before fighting back
to 3-2, but Filipe’s late second rubberstamped the result and ended any
lingering hopes of a Real Madrid
comeback. “We started very badly, making
a lot of errors, and they took advantage,”
said the three-time UEFA Champions
League winner.
Although Barcelona and Real Madrid
headed home disappointed after the
semi-finals, the Catalan side’s Jordi Mboula
at least had the minor consolation of
ending up as the competition’s joint
leading goalscorer alongside AFC Ajax’s
Kaj Sierhuis. Mboula’s eight goals included
a wonderful solo effort against Salzburg
in the semi-final – a weaving run away
from three opposing players, followed by a
fantastic curling shot into the far corner.
Away from the main pitch at Colovray
sports centre, a mini-tournament for
children was contested by 16 local teams
from the regions of Vaud and Geneva.
Here, as in the Youth League, UEFA’s key
messages of fair play and respect were
championed, with children showcasing
their talents before taking their places in
the stadium to catch a glimpse of some
of Europe’s brightest young prospects.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 31
The focus of the footballing world will turn to Cardiff in June when the Welsh capital hosts
both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women’s Champions League finals. Former
Wales striker Ian Rush has been championing this honour as the official UEFA ambassador
of the UEFA Champions League final.
t’s special to have the Champions
League final in Cardiff,” Rush
explained. “It’s a chance for
people to see what Cardiff city is like
and to experience the Welsh traditions.
Whichever teams are there, they will get
a fantastic reception because they are
friendly people there and they just want to
give a tremendous occasion. Even though
the game is special and the stadium’s
incredible, there are other parts of Cardiff
too, and all within walking distance.
It’s not just the game.”
Rush lifted the European Champion
Clubs’ Cup in 1981 and 1984 during his
playing career with Liverpool FC, and it
is that success that made him the perfect
32 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
candidate to be the face of the Cardiff
2017 final. “It’s special to be asked by
UEFA to become an ambassador,” he
explained. “But to be asked to do that
in Wales, it’s amazing; it’s like a reward,
a thank you. It’s a privilege for me.
Basically, I just want to show that football
is thriving in Wales, and I think it’s the
perfect time. I think this is another big
step for us and to have the final in Cardiff
is putting Wales on the map even more,
and that’s great for the country.”
The Champions League final will take
place at the National Stadium, right at the
heart of this historic and cosmopolitan
city and an iconic part of the Cardiff
skyline. Opened in 1999 following a
redevelopment of the old Cardiff Arms
Park that became synonymous with rugby
success, the 74,500-capacity cauldron,
which also boasts a retractable roof,
is more than a worthy host for such
a prestigious event. “It’s an amazing
stadium with the stands and the pitch
and everything,” enthused Rush. “I don’t
know many other stadiums that are in
the centre of town. I think it’s going to
be an amazing atmosphere. That’s what
the supporters have got to make it to be,
that’s what it’s all about.”
Although better known for its rugby
traditions, Rush was one of the first players
to make football headlines at the old
Cardiff Arms Park, scoring the only goal
Ian Rush returned to Wales in good company after the semi-finals draw in Nyon on 21 April.
in a 1-0 victory over Germany in a EURO
qualifier in 1991. Germany were world
champions at the time. “We had a great
team,” Rush recalled. “It was one of our
most famous nights and that put us on
the map as well.” In keeping with the
blend of modern and historic architecture
that presents itself on every corner of the
capital city, a section of the old Arms Park
remained as part of the redevelopment.
“I look at the stadium now and still see
part of the Arms Park there,” added
Rush. “It’s bigger, it’s more modern,
and that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Exciting times
These are exciting times for football in
Wales, and this latest recognition follows
on from successfully hosting the UEFA
Super Cup in 2014, while unparalleled
success was enjoyed on the field at EURO
2016 as the national team reached the
semi-finals. “I was proud to be at the
EURO,” Rush added. “I think there’s
no better time for Wales as we’ve got
to keep that going, and I think this is
another big step for us. We’re known
for rugby, but I think after the EURO and
with the Champions League final we’re
competing with the rugby now. We’d
love to get to the position where we play
football [at the National Stadium] and we
fill it every time. It’s filled every time Wales
play rugby, and that’s what we’ve got to
look to do.”
There is no doubt that Rush speaks with
unwavering pride for his country, and is
excited about the prospect of the world
having its eyes opened to the beauty and
tradition that Wales has to offer. A huge
opportunity for Wales and Welsh football,
Rush is hoping that the overall experience
will see the supporters that make it to the
final come back to the city in the future.
“We want to give a good time on and off
the pitch,” he explained. “Football is only
a game at the end of the day. We have a
great family tradition in Wales. We’re a
proud nation. Go there and enjoy the
tradition of Wales. Experience the Welsh
and enjoy not just the game, but enjoy
Cardiff and Wales too.”
There’s much more to the Champions
League than the showpiece final, as
Cardiff Bay hosts the UEFA Champions
Festival between 1 and 4 June.
Four days of free entertainment are
headlined by the Ultimate Champions
match on 2 June, as legends of the
game compete on a floating pitch that
will also host a number of other fixtures
and free-play sessions during the event.
The main stage at the Roald Dahl
Plass will host local artists, DJs and
bands each day, while the Champions
Gallery at the Wales Millennium Centre
offers the perfect opportunity to
explore the history of the competition.
Creative workshops and the
opportunity to have a photo with the
iconic trophies also form part of the
event, while the Football Association
of Wales’ recent 20-stop trophy tour
has enabled the whole country to
be a part of the occasion. The UEFA
Champions Festival offers everyone the
opportunity to embrace the Champions
League final experience.
Getty Images
Last season’s Champions Festival in Milan
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 33
Paris Saint-Germain and holders Olympique Lyonnais will compete for the UEFA Women’s
Champions League trophy at Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday 1 June, with a joint-record fourth
title the aim for high-scoring Lyon and manager Gérard Prêcheur as they head to the Welsh capital.
three seasons, Paris Saint-Germain will
embrace their opportunity to take centre
stage in the showpiece final, and will be
familiar with the strengths of their
domestic rivals. Having masterminded their
campaign to this stage, coach Patrice Lair
will again look to the goalscoring prowess
of Brazilian striker Cristiane to give his side
the attacking edge. However, Lair will be
well aware of the importance of a welldrilled defence if his side are to have any
chance of keeping Lyon quiet at the other
end of the field.
True test of nerve for Paris
The tactical battle could be an intriguing
one, and while Lyon will inevitably play
to their attacking strengths, Paris SaintGermain will understand that sitting back
with a cautious approach could play into
their hands. However, the side from the
French capital would be ill-advised to
throw caution to the wind against the most
prolific attacking line-up in the women’s
game, and it could well be a true test of
nerve for Lair and his players. In addition,
Manchester City’s 1-0 victory over Lyon
in the semi-final second leg may not have
been enough to take them through, but
highlighted the vulnerabilities that do exist.
The final takes place at the impressive
33,000-seater Cardiff City Stadium.
Opened in 2009, the stadium also hosted
the UEFA Super Cup between Real Madrid
ictory over English champions
Manchester City Women’s FC in the
semi-finals confirmed Lyon’s place
in the final, and with a star-studded squad
of players recently boosted by the arrival of
United States international Alex Morgan,
they will be confident of repeating last
season’s success against their domestic
rivals. By comparison, Paris Saint-Germain
were comfortable victors over FC Barcelona
in the last four, but will be under no illusion
about the tough challenge that presents
itself next as they prepare to take on the
side that has become the dominant force
in the women’s game.
Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg was voted
UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe last
season, primarily for her goalscoring
exploits in the Women’s Champions
League, and while she has contributed four
goals to the cause in the current campaign,
the side boasts no less than a dozen
different goalscorers, such is their overall
attacking strength. The key to stopping
them lifting the trophy once again will be
to deny attacking midfielders Eugénie Le
Sommer and Camille Abily as the duo
currently top the team’s goalscoring charts.
Having disposed of Wolfsburg in a repeat
of last season’s final at the quarter-final
stage, Lyon appear to have already
overcome their toughest hurdle.
Having successfully navigated the
semi-final stage for the second time in
This year’s final will be the third head to head
between Lyon and Paris in the Women’s Champions
League in as many seasons: last season Lyon beat
Paris in the semi-finals (pictured), while in 2014/15
Paris knocked Lyon out in the round of 16.
CF and Sevilla in 2014. Home to Cardiff
City FC, the stadium was initially built to
accommodate just under 27,000 fans,
and a further development to increase the
capacity was completed in the summer of
2014 prior to the UEFA showpiece match.
Also the home of the Wales national team,
the stadium has gained a reputation for its
ability to create a special atmosphere, while
its proximity to the city centre makes it a
popular venue with supporters.
The focus may be firmly fixed on
hosting two enormous events
as the Champions League finals
come to Cardiff, but the Welsh
capital has a proud history
of football that first came to
national prominence back in
1927. Fred Keenor was the
Cardiff City captain when the
Bluebirds headed to Wembley
Stadium to take on Arsenal in
the FA Cup final, and victory
34 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
for the Welsh side ensured the
trophy would leave England
for the one and only time in
its history.
Real Madrid CF were the
victims of one of Cardiff City’s
greatest triumphs in 1971
when a header from Brian
Clark defeated the Spanish
giants in the quarter-finals of
the European Cup Winners’
Cup, as manager Jimmy Scoular
masterminded a triumph that
would never be forgotten.
Real Madrid returned to
Cardiff in 2014 to face Sevilla
in the UEFA Super Cup at Cardiff
City Stadium, and two goals
from Cristiano Ronaldo ensured
better memories this time
around. However, attentions
now switch to the National
Stadium, with the 74,500-seater
venue promising to be the
perfect host. While it may be
associated primarily with rugby,
the stadium is no stranger to the
round ball either, and has hosted
English domestic showpiece
finals as well as fixtures at the
2012 Summer Olympics. Steep
stands and a retractable roof
ensure an incredible, fanfriendly atmosphere, while the
architecture has become an iconic
part of the Cardiff landscape.
A true celebration of the amateur spirit, this season’s UEFA Regions’ Cup finals
will be staged from 1 to 9 July in Istanbul, Turkey.
and venues and playing surfaces worthy of
Champions League games. UEFA also uses
the competition as a proving ground for
up-and-coming match officials, with finals’
referee teams boasting top-level experience
at home and aspiring to reach the very top
of their profession.
The draw for the Regions’ Cup final
round took place in Istanbul on
2 March.
Group A
Istanbul (Turkey)
Ingulec (Ukraine)
Zagreb Region (Croatia)
Lisboa (Portugal)
Group B
Castilla y León (Spain)
Olomouc Region (Czech Republic)
Region 2 (Republic of Ireland)
South Region (Russia)
Group matches 1, 3 and 6 July
Final 9 July
Vadim Caftanat
peaking after his side had won the 2011
UEFA Regions’ Cup, Braga’s José Fortunato
explained how Europe’s top amateur
competition makes footballing dreams come
true. “I’m sure in the future we will look back
at this experience as something unique and
remarkable,” he said. “I feel like I’m floating
on air.”
This competition has been giving Europe’s
top amateur players that feeling for ten
editions, and while past competitors have gone
on to play in the UEFA Europa League, UEFA
Champions League and even at senior
international level, it is very much a celebration
of the amateur spirit.
The Regions’ Cup showcases the talents
of players who have never featured at any
professional level, with eligibility criteria
ensuring that the teams that qualify through
their own national amateur tournaments
compete at a similar level. That means fierce
competition, plus a real sense of community
and respect.
The effort teams and coaches put into the
finals is huge. Gerry Smith, who led Eastern
Region IRL to glory in the 2015 tournament,
alluded to his coaching team’s workload after
their final success. “It wasn’t until 3.15 this
morning that my assistant Gerry Davis finished
doing the DVDs for this game, and we were
back at it for 8.30,” he said. “All week long
it’s been football, football, and more football.”
Of course, the teams would not have it any
other way, and the set-up of the Regions’ Cup
finals ensures that they have every chance to
shine. Host associations provide brilliant training
facilities, an army of supportive volunteers,
Istanbul’s Iskender Can
in qualifying action
Playing for passion
The football is not professional, then, but the
emotions are even more intense as a result.
As Veneto forward Francesco Gasparato put
it after his side won the 2013 edition:
“Tomorrow, we return to our normal lives –
back to work on Monday, but certainly with
a bigger smile. I do what I do really happily –
I have a child, my partner and my job and I play
football when I’ve got time. It’s a passion – it’s
the thing I like doing the most in the world and
today we reached the pinnacle. The biggest joy
of my life was when my child was born, and
then there is this.”
Teams from eight UEFA member associations
will be flying the flag for their countries at the
tenth Regions’ Cup final tournament. Croatia’s
Zagreb Region will be looking to go one better
than in 2015 when they were beaten in the final
by Irish hosts Eastern Region, while this year’s
hosts, Istanbul, will be hoping familiar
surroundings suit them well.
“Being hosts is an advantage for us and not
an additional pressure,” said coach Kamil
Doygun, whose players are drawn from local
leagues in Turkey’s main city. “These players
could comfortably play in our second division.
They have the potential to go even further.”
Time will tell, but in the short term, they will
enjoy some of the best facilities in Turkish
football, with the tournament centring on
the Hasan Doğan complex, named in honour
of a former Turkish Football Federation (TFF)
president and base for the senior national
team. Located in Riva, around 30km north
of Istanbul, close to the shores of the Black
Sea, the complex was formally opened in
July 2014. It includes five training grounds and
rehabilitation facilities as well as running tracks,
swimming and therapy pools and the offices of
the TFF. Two other venues will also stage games:
the Yusuf Ziya Öniş Stadium, which is home to
Sariyerspor, and the Ümraniye Stadium, home
of another suburban side, Ümraniyespor.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 35
he UEFA president
stressed the importance
of having “an open line
of communication” with
football fans as he held his
first meeting with supporters’
groups since being elected to
the helm of European
football’s governing body.
Mr Čeferin held a briefing in
Nyon with the Centre for
Access to Football in Europe
(CAFE), Supporters Direct
Europe (SD-Europe) and
Football Supporters Europe
(FSE). He emphasised the need
for “close cooperation” with
football fans and the
importance of taking their
interests into account.
“Supporters’ groups are vital
members of the football
community, and it is
imperative that we have an
open line of communication
with them. Football would not
be the game it is today
without the passion and
dedication of its fans. I hope
that by cooperating closely,
we can make important
decisions for the good of
European football.” Among
the topics of discussion at the
meeting were improving
access for disabled fans
wanting to attend football
matches, as well as efforts
to tackle violence, racism
and homophobia at games.
The UEFA president, Aleksander Čeferin, met with supporters' groups in Nyon on 24 April
and emphasised that listening to fans' interests was vital for the good of the game.
The UEFA president with supporter representatives
The European commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, Tibor Navracsics,
has expressed satisfaction that UEFA is committed to embedding good governance in its activities.
peaking to the
UEFA Congress in
Helsinki last month,
Tibor Navracsics, the
European commissioner
for education, culture,
youth and sport, said he
was glad that UEFA was
fully committed to
fostering good governance. He expressed
the view that governance “needs to
become part of the DNA of sport
organisations, big and small. We have all
seen how failures in governance have
tarnished the image of sport. Football has
been particularly vulnerable, although it is
by no means the only sport affected. It is
due to its huge popularity that football is
under even closer scrutiny.”
“I was also pleased that UEFA signed up
to the declaration I launched last
36 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
September urging all sport federations and
organisations, in the EU and beyond, to
embed the culture of good governance in
their activities. Transparency, accountability
and stakeholder involvement are the
backbone of good governance principles.
Sport must regain people's trust to keep
its place at the heart of our societies.”
Common objectives and values
Commissioner Navracsics emphasised that
UEFA and the European Commission
shared common objectives in a broad
range of areas, with a formal arrangement
for cooperation signed in 2014 and
covering various topics, including financial
fair play, match-fixing and third-party
ownership. He reflected that football can
be much more than entertainment or a
passion and underlined the power of sport
and football in bringing people together,
promoting social inclusion and the values
of fair play, solidarity and mutual respect.
The two organisations also shared many
values and aspirations, he said, such as
“integrity, respect for human rights and
dignity, non-discrimination and solidarity.”
He welcomed the work UEFA was
undertaking to nurture football’s
grassroots – including UEFA Grassroots
Week, held each September and aligned
with the European Commission’s
European Week of Sport, which promotes
sport and physical activity across the
“I know how active UEFA is in these
fields,” the commissioner said, “and its
campaigns against racism and violence
have been particularly important. Football
has the power to reach out to large sectors
of society in a way that politicians and
governments simply cannot.”
UEFA EURO 2016 set new benchmarks for socially responsible tournament operations,
UEFA member associations have organised projects across Europe and beyond thanks
to new HatTrick social responsibility incentive payments, and UEFA’s social responsibility
partnerships continue to leverage the power of football to great effect.
he objective of UEFA’s football and
social responsibility (FSR) programme
is to manage the environmental,
social and economic impacts of European
football, which has a vital role to play in
driving social development and creating
long-term benefits for society.
To demonstrate its commitment to
leveraging the power of football, building
on past successes and assimilating lessons
learned, each year UEFA reports on its
achievements to date and those of its
members and partners, as well as the
challenges faced in the fields of diversity,
inclusion, the environment, health,
peace and reconciliation, solidarity
and fan dialogue.
This latest report, the fourth in a
five-year FSR cycle, summaries the efforts
made during the 2015/16 season to
integrate social responsibility and
sustainability into UEFA’s business process.
“UEFA is on an ever-advancing football
and social responsibility journey,” said Peter
Gilliéron, UEFA Executive Committee
member and chairman of the Fair Play
and Social Responsibility Committee.
“And the 2015/16 season was a very
special one, not least because of EURO
2016, which saw the seamless integration
of social responsibility and sustainability
into UEFA’s tournament operations.”
Indeed, EURO 2016's approach to
social responsibility and sustainability
earned it ISO 20121 certification for
operations from the International
Organization for Standardization.
Another important milestone was the
establishment of dedicated HatTrick
incentive payments to support UEFA’s
member associations in their efforts
to develop and foster football and
social responsibility at all levels within
their territories.
A total of €2.75m drawn from EURO
2016 revenues was made available to
UEFA’s 55 member associations in
The 2015/16 Football and
Social Responsibility Report is
available to download from
2015/16 FSR budget by theme
Peace & reconciliation
Fan dialogue
€160,000 of the total fan dialogue allocation of €225,000
came from UEFA's institutional supporters budget and the
other €65,000 from the FSR budget.
Total €3,896,600
2015/16 to make European football more
socially responsible and sustainable across
the board.
“The efforts of UEFA, EURO 2016 SAS,
UEFA’s FSR partners, staff, volunteers,
national associations, clubs, players, and
last but not least, fans to play their part in
this virtuous FSR circle are commendable.
We need to keep the momentum going,”
Mr Gilliéron added.
UEFA’s appetite to move forward and
progress along its social responsibility and
sustainability path remains as strong as ever.
Among the key success factors on this
journey are the long-term partnerships UEFA
enjoys with a limited number of specialised
NGOs, whose invaluable work is also outlined
in the latest report. Available in English,
French and German, it covers the period
between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2016.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 37
It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.
This Asian proverb certainly applies to Slovakian football’s hall of fame,
which was officially inaugurated on 22 March.
38 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
‘meeting’ the famous players, coaches and
officials whose portraits hang in the hall of
fame. A total of 16 big names of Slovakian
football have been inducted into the hall
of fame so far: Jozef Adamec, Jozef
Čapkovič, Karol Dobiaš, Karol Galba, Karol
Jokl, Anton Ondruš, Ján Popluhár, Adolf
Scherer, Viliam Schrojf, Leopold Šťastný
and Jozef Vengloš formed the first 11,
and they were joined in 2017 by Titus
Buberník, Štefan Čambal, Jozef Kšiňan,
Ján Pivarník and Michal Vičan. New names
will be added each year. Visitors will also
find photos of all 234 players who have
he honour of cutting the ribbon
was given to Slovakia’s coach of the
20th century, Jozef Vengloš; one of
the most famous Slovakian footballers of
all time, Jozef Adamec; and the president
of the Slovak Football Association (SFZ),
Ján Kováčik.
“We have a saying that a person who
does not know his history does not deserve
his future. Every institution, including
sports organisations, should have a place
where their history can be relived,” Kováčik
said on opening the SFZ hall of fame.
“We want to remember and honour the
great moments of our past and in doing
so look ahead with confidence. We do
not have to be afraid of the future! This
is a place where we can come together
and reminisce, but also plan our future.”
Artefacts, memorabilia and historical
documents are laid out across two floors:
the ground floor belongs to the modern
era of Slovakian football, as of 1994,
while the first floor showcases the
greatest achievements of Czechoslovakian
football from its beginnings until 1993.
It is impossible to single out the most
precious exhibit, but the shortlist would
probably include Ján Popluhár’s official
invitation to Stanley Matthews’ farewell
match, Anton Urban’s silver medal from
the 1964 Olympics, the boots worn by
Jozef Čapkovič in the 1976 European
Championship final, complete with the
original turf, the award presented to Jozef
Adamec when he won the golden boot for
best league scorer, the ball used by Štefan
Čambal in his second international match,
donated by the grandchildren of the first
Slovak to play in a World Cup final, and
one of the balls from Slovakia’s EURO
debut against Wales in Bordeaux last year.
Visitors can spend five minutes to five
hours perusing the history of Slovakian
football, looking back over the
achievements of the individuals and
teams that have left their mark on the
game, learning new things or just soaking
up the atmosphere and reliving some
historic moments, not to mention
From left to right: Jozef Adamec, Jozef Vengloš and
Ján Kováčik
worn the Slovakian
national team shirt since
2 February 1994, and of
course the coaches who led
them from the bench.
“I’m delighted that the hall of fame is
now a reality. It will really help Slovakian
football,” said Jozef Vengloš, the biggest
living legend in Slovakian football.
“It proves that we have achieved many
successes and can be proud of our history.
I believe that many young players will
take the time to visit this unique place
and that it will serve as a great inspiration
for them.”
Peter Zeman, who first came up with
the idea and now coordinates the hall
of fame, donated a number of items
from his own memorabilia collection.
“We acquired the space for the hall of
fame last year and since December we
have been working on decorating and
setting the place up,” he said. “Of course,
this will be an ongoing process and we will
keep looking for new memorabilia to add.”
The hall of fame will also acquire a new
home, together with the SFZ and the
Slovakian national team, when Slovakia’s
new national stadium has been built.
Located at Tehelné pole in Bratislava,
the stadium is scheduled for completion
by the end of 2018.
Azerbaijan’s state academy of
physical education and sport
(ASAPES) recently organised
a two-day workshop on football
journalism in cooperation with the
Association of Football Federations
of Azerbaijan (AFFA).
The manager of ASAPES’ continuing
professional development programmes,
Tukazban Jafarova, opened the workshop
with a general overview of the topics to
be covered. She then gave the floor to
AFFA’s information and public relations
specialist, Firuz Abdulla, who gave a brief
presentation and wished the participants
all the best in their training.
A final welcome was given by the head
of ASAPES’ strategic development
committee and the rector’s international
relations advisor, Shamsiyya Mustafayeva,
before the workshop proper got under
way under the guidance of experienced
instructor Dan Mason.
The workshop was attended by 12
journalists, selected on the
recommendation of AFFA’s media
committee, and by members of AFFA’s
media and PR and marketing and
sponsorship departments. Together, the
participants exchanged ideas about
modern trends in sports journalism, the
impact and potential of social media,
how to provide information quickly and
efficiently, and how to manage
multimedia projects.
Yury Sadovski, deputy head of
the BFF’s marketing and
communication department,
is delighted with the result:
“We are very pleased with our
new logo and all the related
branding, which was developed
just in time for the new season. We
created several versions: a full colour logo
(green and red), a monochrome black
version and a monochrome white version.
This will allow us to use the logo on
different backgrounds.” The new logo is
also available in two language versions:
Belarusian and Russian.
All top-flight clubs were given a full set
of branded materials before the new
The Football Federation of Belarus
(BFF) has developed a new logo
for its top division, giving the
Belarusian Premier League a fresh new
look with the aid of local creative
agency DAB.
The design for the new logo is based
on the centre circle of a football pitch,
symbolising the unity of the country’s
top clubs. The green lines denote the
quest for victory and give the logo a
dynamic quality, while the 11 red
pentagons positioned within those lines
represent players, divided into
defenders, midfielders and forwards.
The focal point within the new logo is,
of course, a ball.
season kicked off on 1 April,
including press conference
backdrops, boards, ball
stands for pre-match
ceremonies and T-shirt
patches. Already, the league
has a completely different look
and feel about it. With a large
number of teams separated by just a
handful of points at the top of the table,
and attendance figures at several clubs,
such as FC Dinamo Brest, FC Gomel and
FC Dnepr Mogilev, substantially higher
than in the past, the 27th season of the
Belarusian Premier League represents an
exciting new page in the history of
Belarusian football.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 39
The Royal Belgian Football
Association is set to launch a new
initiative aimed at professionalising
refereeing, with eight referees becoming
semi-professional next season.
The aim is to gradually increase that
figure over time, in order to have 10 semiprofessional referees by 2018/19 and 12
by 2019/20. “We intend to work
intensively on their pre-match
preparation, match analysis and coaching.
They will spend one and a half days a
week practising at our national football
centre,” explains Johan Verbist, head
of refereeing at the Royal Belgian
Football Association. “We hope to
improve the skills of every single one of
those match officials. But we won’t just
Johan Verbist
be helping our semi-professional referees.
All of our referees are equally important
to us, and we will obviously continue to
support the others as well.”
The association hopes that, in addition
to improving the quality of refereeing in
domestic football, this initiative will also
result in Belgian referees featuring more
prominently at international level.
All 19 of Belgium’s elite referees were
able to apply for semi-professional status,
and a total of 15 did so. “We are really
pleased with that figure and the amount
of enthusiasm on display,” says Koen De
Brabander, the association’s general
The eight referees who have been
selected are: Sébastien Delferière,
Bart Vertenten, Alexandre Boucaut,
Jonathan Lardot, Erik Lambrechts,
Lawrence Visser, Bram Van Driessche
and Nathan Verboomen.
Belgium’s match officials now
have their own Twitter account
(@BelgianReferees), so you can follow
the referees’ progress as they embark
on this new initiative.
F. Krvavac
On 1 April, the new East Stand at
Stadion Grbavica was
inaugurated. The stand, which
seats 4,266 spectators and was built with
the aid of donations from fans, friends of
FK Željezničar and sponsors, forms part of
a long-term renovation project at the
stadium. The honour of formally opening
the new stand fell to revered former
player and coach Ivica Osim – the great
‘Švabo’. “In all my years of playing at
Stadion Grbavica, I never saw a better
pitch. This should have happened long
ago. I would like to thank everyone who
has come here today. This is a nostalgic
40 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
club that lives within its means and has
produced a miracle,” he said. Thus, after
13 long years, Željezničar will once again
be hosting European matches at their
home ground.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Under-16
team recently won the Josip Katalinski
Škija Memorial Tournament, beating
Montenegro 4-2 on penalties in the final.
The tournament was also contested by a
team representing Belgrade and a team
representing Sarajevo and East Sarajevo.
The trophy was presented to the winners
by Ivica Osim. Montenegro’s Amir
Muzurović was given the award for the
player who most reminded people of
Josip Katalinski Škija.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s futsal team
headed to Baku in April for the main
round of the European Futsal
Championship. They lost 5-4 to hosts
Azerbaijan, before drawing 2-2 with
Hungary and 6-6 with Albania, so failed
to qualify for the final round.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Under-16
women’s team recently won a UEFA
development tournament in Podgorica.
They overcame Azerbaijan 3-1 and
Kazakhstan 2-1, before beating hosts
Montenegro 5-4 on penalties in the final.
SFK 2000 Sarajevo’s youth team have
won Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national
girls’ championship, topping the table
with 35 points. ŽFK Radnik Bumerang
were runners-up with 31 points, followed
by ŽFK Iskra Bugojno (30 points), ŽFK
Mladost Poljavnice (23 points), ŽFK Banja
Luka (18 points), ŽFK Lokomotiva Brčko
(14 points), ŽOFK Gradina (6 points) and
ŽFK Modriča (3 points).
Futsal club Mostar SG Staklorad
have won the Bosnian and Herzegovinian
Futsal Cup, beating MNK Centar over
two legs in the final. Although they
lost the second leg 5-4 on 22 April,
their 5-3 victory in the first leg a week
earlier was enough to give them victory
on aggregate.
Angel Stoykov’s Under-19s have
three training camps lined up, in
Albena, Stara Zagora and
Sofia in preparation for the European
Under-19 Championship finals in Georgia
this summer.
The first training camp will be held at
the Albena resort complex from 5 to 10
June, from 13 to 17 June the team will
train in Stara Zagora and from 20
to 30 June the squad will be based at the
national football centre in Sofia’s Boyana
district. These training camps will also
involve friendly matches, the dates and
opponents for which will be announced
in due course.
The team will head straight from the
national football centre in Sofia to Georgia,
where they will join England, Germany and
the Netherlands in Group B.
The president of the Bulgarian Football
Union, Borislav Mihaylov, praised Angel
Stoykov and his players on their excellent
performance in qualifying for this
summer’s European Under-19
Championship finals and treated them to a
celebratory dinner at the national football
centre. “I congratulate you on qualifying
for this Under-19 EURO,” he said. “With
your passion and skills, you have made the
Bulgarian fans proud of you. I wish you all
the very best for the tournament in
Georgia. I’m confident that, although you
will be up against very strong opponents,
you will succeed in defending the honour
of Bulgarian football.”
The players and staff all received special
bonuses for qualifying for the final
tournament and claiming their place
among the eight best teams in Europe.
International Roma Day was
celebrated in Zagreb with a futsal
tournament organised by the
World Roma Organization in Croatia
and the Croatian Football Federation.
Four teams contested the tournament: a
side representing Croatia’s ethnic
minorities, Croatia’s deaf-mute national
team, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Roma
national team, and the ‘Humanitarian
Stars’ from Kotor Varos in Bosnia
and Herzegovina.
“We are happy and proud to be
celebrating our day – a day that has
been celebrated worldwide since 1971
– in this manner. We are most grateful to
the Croatian Football Federation and its
president, Davor Šuker, our partners and
associates in this endeavour, for helping
us to organise such a fantastic event,”
said Toti Dedić, president of the World
Roma Organization.
Meanwhile, Croatia’s football family
recently said a sad goodbye to Tomislav
Židak, who died in April aged 65. Židak,
who was one of the country’s most loved
and respected sportswriters, dedicated
most of his career to football, receiving
numerous awards for his contribution
to sports journalism. Hundreds of big
names in the game paid their respects to
one of the most influential voices in
Croatian sport.
Even without any Croatian clubs making
it through to the knockout stage, six
Croatian internationals have reached the
semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Indeed, with at least one Croat playing for
each of the four clubs – Šime Vrsaljko at
Club Atlético de Madrid, Mario Mandžukić
and Marko Pjaca at Juventus, Luka Modrić
and Mateo Kovačić at Real Madrid CF and
Danijel Subašić at AS Monaco FC – Croatia
are assured of having a Champions League
winner for the fifth year in a row.
Finally, GNK Dinamo Zagreb’s Under-14
team recently won the 15th Vukovar
Veterans’ Memorial Tournament, beating
Osijek 4-0 in the final. Dinamo Zagreb’s
Viktor Kanižaj was named player of the
tournament, with team-mate Ivan Šaranić
finishing as the top scorer.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 41
The Faroese women’s national
team have once again made it
through to the group stage of
World Cup qualifying.
In April the Faroe Islands FA hosted
the Group 5 preliminary round minitournament, in which the home team
competed against Luxembourg,
Montenegro and Turkey.
The Faroe Islands and Turkey both
remained unbeaten after two matchdays
and it all came down to their head to
head. The winners of this match would
top the group and qualify directly for the
next round. The match was close, and
Turkey got ahead before the break,
putting pressure on the hosts. But with
the support of more than 1,000 fans in
the stands, the Faroese fought back to
win the game 2-1.
This is seen as a massive result for
women’s football in the Faroe Islands,
and everyone is now looking forward to
the qualifying group stage, where the
team will face the Czech Republic, the
mighty Germany, Iceland and Slovenia.
“We want to play against stronger
nations, and we really will be tested in
this group. It will be a challenge, but
without a doubt it will also be an exciting
and valuable experience for our players,”
says head coach Pætur Clementsen.
Hard-working volunteers are a
cornerstone of our sport. Mindful
of that, the German Football
Association (DFB) launched a special
initiative – Aktion Ehrenamt – 20 years ago
in order to honour and support all those
people who dedicate their time and energy
to the game on a voluntary basis. Aktion
Ehrenamt shines a spotlight on all the
different people on whom our clubs
depend, from coaches and youth leaders
to club presidents, administrators,
treasurers and so on.
Changes in society have resulted in
changes in people’s relationships with their
clubs and it has become increasingly
difficult to establish lasting ties. In
response to that, the DFB’s Aktion
Ehrenamt encourages people to volunteer,
provides training and pays tribute to the
vital contribution that volunteers make.
DFB Volunteer Awards are presented to
one volunteer in each of Germany’s 280
football districts every year. In addition,
42 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
100 award winners are invited to join the
prestigious ‘100 Club’ in recognition of
their exceptional commitment to the
game. Since 2016, the DFB has also been
honouring ‘football heroes’ – young
volunteers between the ages of 16 and
30 who have made an outstanding
contribution to the game. Every spring,
the association organises a trip to
Barcelona for the winners of these youth
volunteer awards.
About 1.7 million people are involved in
football in Germany on a voluntary basis.
In order to reach those people, the DFB
has also used Aktion Ehrenamt to
establish dedicated structures such as a
volunteer committee, which directs all
assistance measures and projects
developed by the association’s
qualifications department. These are then
rolled out to clubs via 21 dedicated
officials with responsibility for volunteers
at regional level and a further 274 officials
at district level.
The 2017 edition of the Georgian
Football Federation (GFF)
Amateur Cup kicked off on
19 April at Ozurgeti central stadium.
The opening match was attended by
the GFF’s general secretary, David Mujiri,
and vice-president, Nika Jgarkava.
“The Georgian Football Federation,
together with the Amateur Football
Association, first organised the Amateur
Cup in 2016, when some 250 teams and
5,000 players took part,” Mr Mujiri
explains. “The number of participants
has increased significantly this year, and I
am sure that this trend will continue in
the future, which is excellent news in
terms of mass participation in football.”
This year, the Amateur Cup features
314 teams and 8,000 amateur footballers
from 45 towns and districts around the
country. The competition will be played
out in three stages, with teams
competing at municipal, regional and
finally national level. The municipal stage
takes the form of a cup competition, with
the winners and, in some cases, the best
runners-up advancing to the regional
stage, which will comprise 11 leagues
of 6 to 8 teams. These will be played
out in a round-robin format and coincide
with the Tbilisi premier league and first
division competitions, as well as the Tbilisi
Cup, whose finalists will enter the final
stage of the 2017 Amateur Cup. They will
be joined at the decisive national stage
by the 14 winners of the regional
leagues, for what is sure to be an
exciting end to a unique competition.
www.mlsz.hu / en.mlsz.hu
all have somewhere to play their
weekend matches.
Gábor Gundel Takács, head of the
MLSZ’s Budapest directorate, says:
“I know Budapest football well from
several different perspectives. Fifty or sixty
years ago, there were more than 270
pitches in Budapest. Today, there are
barely 100, which means that the pitch
situation is worse in the capital than
anywhere else in the country.
Consequently, the MLSZ’s Budapest
directorate has launched a programme
aimed at ensuring that no more pitches
are built on for other purposes, existing
pitches are upgraded appropriately where
needed, and more pitches are created.”
The national Under-12 club
competitions organised by the youth
and schools division of the Italian
Those new pitches, which will be funded
by the government, will be in addition to
the 1,000 or so pitches of different sizes
that the MLSZ has established across the
country in the last six years under the
leadership of Sándor Csányi.
For decades, news relating to
pitches in the Hungarian capital
has been all about their gradual
disappearance. That is about to change
thanks to the Budapest Pitch Development
Programme, under which the Hungarian
Football Federation (MLSZ) is joining
forces with local authorities to improve
the city’s grassroots infrastructure.
The first agreement is due to be signed
with Pestszentlorinc-Pestszentimre local
council for the creation and renovation of
pitches in the capital’s 18th district. That
will be followed by similar agreements
with the city’s 22 other districts, in order
to make sure that Budapest’s large
numbers of amateur and youth players
Football Federation (FIGC) will soon reach
their conclusion, with the final rounds to be
played at the federation’s Coverciano
training complex on 17 and 18 June. The
Fair Play Elite tournament for boys and the
Danone Nations Cup for girls are contested
by teams from Italy’s professional league
clubs (Serie A, Serie B and Lega Pro) and
elite football schools. The finalists have had
to work hard to reach this stage, seeing off
rivals in qualifying rounds at local, regional
and inter-regional level.
Both competitions are part of a
coordinated, multi-phase project developed
by the FIGC’s youth and schools division to
promote a broad spectrum of grassroots
activities across Italy. The youngsters play in
teams of eight (girls’ competition) and nine
(boys’) – a format that will become the
model for this age group as of next season.
In addition, individual skills are put to the
test before each match in a short one-onone shootout competition, providing an
opportunity to assess the players’ attitude
and ability as they approach the end of the
first stage in their footballing education,
with particular emphasis on fair play as an
essential part of every player’s
development. The one-on-one shootout is
about awareness and individual skills,
focusing on dribbling and shooting in the
case of outfield players, and coming off
the line and narrowing the angle for
goalkeepers. It also contributes to the
youngsters’ ongoing physical, technical
and mental development.
This is the second year that the FIGC’s
youth and schools division has organised a
girls’ Under-12 competition in cooperation
with Danone. By focusing on the
development of young female players, the
competition further contributes to a sector
of youth football that has seen substantial
growth in recent years. This is at least in
part thanks to a new provision in the
FIGC’s club licensing regulations whereby
every club wishing to participate in the
national leagues has to have a girls’
Under-12 team. This year’s Danone Nations
Cup featured 58 teams (23 from
professional clubs), which represents an
increase of over a third in the space of a
season. The winners will travel to New
York to represent Italy at world finals in
September. Around 400 teams,
meanwhile, entered the Fair Play Elite
Under-12 boys’ tournament.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 43
On 19 and 20 April, the Football
Federation of Kazakhstan (KFF)
hosted its latest round-table
meetings on the development of amateur
football at regional level, with a view to
discussing key issues and identifying
solutions to problems.
In addition to the presidents and
general secretaries of regional football
federations, the meetings in Astana were,
for the first time, also attended by the
heads of regional sports departments.
The KFF’s general secretary, Kanysh
Aubakirov, welcomed the participants:
“In addition to the heads of regional
football federations, we have also invited
the leaders of regional sports
departments. This is very important for
us, because you are involved directly at
regional level and contribute to the
development of mass sport. We want
sports management bodies to understand
the importance of the regional football
federations. Your remarks and
suggestions, which will really contribute
to the development of grassroots
football, will be taken into account at the
KFF’s general assembly. If we work
together, we will be able to devise a
joint strategy for the development of
football at regional level.”
The meetings were an opportunity not
only to discuss the development of
football in the different regions, but also
to exchange views on topics such as club
licensing (including issues relating to legal
documentation, financial fair play and
infrastructure) and the organisation and
running of competitions in youth and
grassroots football. Participants heard, for
example, about the KFF’s new Regional
Cup competition for amateur teams,
which will be contested for the first time
this season. The top four teams in that
competition will be given places in the
preliminary round of next season’s Kazakh
There was also a proposal to license
amateur players at regional level, and a
presentation on a football project for
primary schools nationwide, which the
KFF is planning to pilot in Astana and
Almaty in 2018 in conjunction with
the Kazakh ministry of education
and science.
The head of the KFF’s grassroots
department, Yerlan Dzhamantayev,
also explained that, as part of the
association’s plans to raise the profile
of amateur football, the final rounds
of certain amateur competitions
would be organised by the KFF from
now on.
The round-table participants all
agreed that such meetings are an
important cornerstone of effective
interaction between the different
parties involved in amateur football
in Kazakhstan.
Aleksandrs Starkovs, who led
Latvia to their biggest success so
far in qualifying for EURO 2004
in Portugal, has returned for a third spell
as head coach of the national team. He
signed a two-and-a-half-year contract in
April to take up the position vacated
by fellow countryman Marians Pahars,
who stepped down at the end of March.
Pahars himself took over from Starkovs in
July 2013, having previously managed
Skonto FC and the Latvian Under-21s.
His last game in charge was a friendly
44 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
Aleksandrs Starkovs (middle)
match in Georgia, which the visitors lost
5-0. Pahars, who spent most of his playing
career as a striker for Southampton FC in the English Premier League, is now
looking to return to club football.
Between his previous stints with
the Latvian national team (2001–04
and 2007–13), Starkovs has managed
such clubs as FC Spartak Moskva in
Russia, Bakı FK in Azerbaijan and Skonto
FC in his native Latvia. He was also a
member of the board of the Latvian
Football Federation.
Women and girls have taken
centre stage in Lithuania this
spring as the Lithuanian Football
Federation (LFF) organised the second
editions of both its girls’ futsal
championship and its women’s futsal
league, while also hosting a couple of
international tournaments.
Ladygolas, the girls’ futsal championship,
continues to defy expectations, with
445 teams taking part this season.
“Many people shook their heads when
we told them we were thinking of
launching a women’s futsal project,” the
LFF’s grassroots manager, Vaidotas
Rastenis, explains.
“In 2016 we expected to have 200
teams at most and in the end we had
347. This season we had even more
teams, in three different age
categories.” Last season Ladygolas was
shortlisted for UEFA’s KISS Marketing
Award for best women’s football
marketing campaign.
Meanwhile, at elite level, nine
teams took part in the second season
of the LFF women’s futsal league,
while a record 15 teams signed up for
the second division of the women’s
football league.
With the women’s game clearly going
from strength to strength, players and
staff have gained valuable experience by
hosting Women‘s World Cup qualifiers
and a UEFA women’s Under-18
development tournament, as well as
taking part in a women’s Under-16
development tournament in Slovenia in
preparation for the European Women’s
Under-17 Championship final
tournament Lithuania will host in 2018.
The Malta FA congratulated the newly
qualified Pro licence holders on their
achievements and presented certificates
to each of them, as well as to those who
completed the UEFA Elite Youth A licence
course at the end of May.
The Malta FA’s coach education
department is headed by Stephen
Grima, with Robert Gatt as director
of the technical centre.
D. Aquilina
A total of 19 coaches have
successfully completed the
first UEFA Pro licence
course organised by the Malta FA’s
technical centre. The centre’s coach
education department received positive
feedback from UEFA Jira Panel member
Dany Ryser, who oversaw the
assessments – the final stage
of a rigorous 450-hour course.
Excellent results were achieved across
the board, confirming the hard work put
in by the candidates and the high quality
of education offered by the Malta FA
in all its coaching courses. Ryser
confirmed that the Maltese coaches
had demonstrated great competence
and willingness to work hard in order
to achieve the required standard.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 45
The Moldovan women’s national
team have qualified in impressive
fashion for the group stage of the
European qualifying competition for the
2019 Women’s World Cup. Drawn into
Group 3 for the preliminary round, the
Moldovans, led by coach Alina Stețenco,
beat Andorra 4-0 and Lithuania 2-0
before drawing 0-0 with Israel to finish
second. Although beaten to top spot on
goal difference, Moldova qualified for the
group stage as the best runners-up of all
four preliminary round groups. The
qualifying group stage draw at the end of
April put them in Group 6 alongside
Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Romania.
“This was not an easy achievement,”
Stețenco said after her team’s
qualification. “I want to say a huge
thank you to my players, who believed
they could do it and did exactly what I
asked of them. The match against
Lithuania was particularly special for me.
It was like a dream come true. We played
really good football, we had control of
the ball, and we passed very well, which
is not something we managed in previous
years against strong opponents such as
Sweden and Denmark.”
This success story is not down to
chance but the result of serious hard
work, which begins with the youngest
age groups. In order to give all its players
the best possible training, the Football
Association of Moldova invites its
women’s teams to use the facilities at the
national technical centre in Vadul lui Voda
and organises lots of friendly tournaments
during the year. UEFA’s development
tournaments have been a great help in
giving the younger players international
experience and two years ago the senior
team made it into the qualifying group
stage for Women’s EURO 2017,
triumphing over Latvia, Lithuania and
Luxembourg in the preliminary round
mini-tournament they hosted and
competing against Denmark, Poland,
Slovakia and Sweden in the next round.
As a sign of the changing times, two
years ago only the captain played for a
foreign club; now 11 of Moldova’s senior
national team have been signed by clubs
in Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Romania and
Russia. By all accounts, women’s football
in Moldova has an exciting future ahead
of it!
The Irish Football Association
has presented international caps
to Northern Ireland’s first-ever
futsal squad. The players made history
in December when they made their bow
at the Futsal Home Nations Championships
in Wales. At a presentation ceremony held
at the National Football Stadium at
46 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
Windsor Park in Belfast the achievements
of both the team and the backroom staff
were celebrated. The event also highlighted
the rapid development of the sport in
Northern Ireland over the last 18 months.
Irish FA president David Martin presented
the caps. “The Irish FA encouraged the
creation of a culture of futsal back in 2013,
as documented in the association’s
corporate strategy,” he explained.
“Subsequent youth and futsal strategies
have served to embed the game of futsal
into all future Irish FA development
plans. Events like this highlight the
progress that has been made and I look
forward to the future development of
the sport.”
Jonathan Michael, head coach of
the Northern Ireland futsal team, said:
“It has been wonderful to recognise the
achievements of the players. This group
of players are pioneers for the sport in
Northern Ireland and I hope that their
experiences and influence will inspire
many more to get involved in the game.”
Following the death of FC
Dinamo’s Patrick Ekeng on 6 May
2016 and a thorough inventory
of the medical facilities of all its affiliated
members, the Romanian Football
Federation (FRF) decided to provide each
of its clubs with an external automatic
defibrillator. The FRF’s medical
department identified this as a ‘must’,
especially as so few already had such
devices of their own.
The FRF wanted not just to hand out
the devices but to combine their
distribution with education sessions in
the form of special seven-hour courses
on first aid and how to manage
emergency situations that could occur
on the pitch during matches or training.
The head of the FRF’s medical
department, Dr Mihai Meiu, conducted
this educational tour with Dr Ovidiu
Cismaru, an emergency doctor who
works with the FRF. They started at
the FRF football centre in Mogosoaia
in December and worked their way
around the country, completing their
tour at the end of April.
Given the size of Romania, which is
not a small country by any stretch, the
courses were organised on a regional
basis in the cities of Timisoara, ClujNapoca, Targu Mures and Brasov –
one of which is within a two-hour drive
of every FRF member. Each club was
asked to nominate a medical specialist to
attend and take receipt of their
defibrillator on successful completion
of the course.
This project, supported and financed by
UEFA, was a real first for Romania and
according to Dr Cismaru, the instructors
were “pleasantly surprised” by the level
of take-up and existing knowledge
among the club doctors. “All the course
participants were well aware of how an
external defibrillator should be used in
conjunction with traditional resuscitation
manoeuvres,” he said.
The initiative was very well received,
with almost 200 clubs having taken up
the invitation. As a result, around 90%
of FRF members now have defibrillators
that will help them gain precious time
in the event of an emergency.
The Scottish FA has established an
Equality and Diversity Advisory
Board (EDAB), designed to
enhance inclusivity and ensure Scottish
football moves towards a better
representation of Scotland.
As a core component of its strategy
‘Scotland United: 2020 Vision’, the
Scottish FA has made a commitment to
progressing and embedding equality in all
levels of Scottish football and the EDAB is
a fundamental initiative in that regard. The newly formed EDAB convened for
its first meeting at Hampden, the home
of Scottish football, in March and it will
subsequently meet quarterly. It aims to
serve as a senior supporting group to
provide guidance to the Scottish FA and
ensure that the organisation’s
commitment to inclusion, equality and
diversity is embedded throughout its
structures, plans and activities.
Chaired by Ralph Topping, a member
of the Scottish FA Board, the EDAB also
involves the Scottish FA’s chief executive,
head of human resources, and diversity
Scottish FA
and inclusion manager, working
alongside six independent members
with expertise in different aspects of
equality and diversity.
At the initial meeting, the EDAB
members were presented with an
introduction to the Scottish FA’s structure,
an overview of the equality initiatives
already undertaken and a review of the
new grassroots disability strategy due
to be launched later this year.
“We are proud of the Scottish FA’s
work towards equality and the strides we
have made,” Ralph Topping said.
“Appointing this advisory board will
support our aim of being fully
representative and inclusive in all areas
and at all levels of our work.”
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 47
The Football Association of Serbia
(FSS) recently held its third general
meeting of the 2016–20 period,
which brought together 79 delegates at
the FSS sports centre in Stara Pazova.
Special guests included Bjorn Vassallo,
FIFA’s member association regional
director for Europe, who, on behalf of
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, wished
everyone continued success in their
efforts to promote and develop Serbian
football. The event was also attended by
former coaches of the national teams of
Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, and
Serbia, as well as a large number of staff
and football officials.
The delegates approved the executive
committee report for 2016, which
outlines the excellent work undertaken by
the FSS across a number of different
areas. The national Under-17 and
Under-21 youth teams were congratulated
on their performances in their respective
European competitions, and hope and
support was expressed for the senior
team, coached by Slavoljub Muslin, in
their efforts to qualify for the 2018 World
Cup in Russia.
It was also announced that, in line with
FSS president Slaviša Kokeza’s preelection promise, work is expected to
start on a number of important projects
for Serbian football, including the
construction of a new national stadium
and administrative ‘house of football’.
Finally, awards were presented to the best
and most promising individuals in Serbian
football in 2016. Uroš Djurdjević was
named the most promising player, and
Nenad Lalatović received the award for
best coach. Nenad Minaković was singled
out as the most promising referee in
Serbia, and the award for the most
promising referee trio went to Milorad
Mažić, Milovan Ristić and Dalibor
Djurdjević. Allegra Poljak was named the
best female player, Tanja Djapić the most
promising female player, and Nemanja
Savić the best coach in women’s football.
Róbert Vittek
Less than 1% of the people
who play football do so
professionally. The amateur game
represents 99% of those involved in and
passionate about the world’s most popular
game, making it the real global
phenonemon. In Slovakia, this recognition
has given rise to BE-PRO, a unique service
that brings together players, clubs and
others involved in amateur football. The
service works much like an online dating
service for football, creating a virtual space
where players, clubs and officials
can connect.
“The project has been up and
running for five years now,” one of
the co-founders, Andrej Kalina, explains.
“It works on the principle of supply
and demand. Players look for clubs,
and clubs look for players – that’s the
basic premise. On the one hand, players
48 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
can choose from a variety of clubs,
and on the other hand clubs can see
what players are available. We’re talking
about amateur football, so it’s free to post
ads. There’s nothing to lose, for players or
clubs. Both sides can only benefit from
using BE-PRO.”
The services available on BE-PRO are not
only for players and clubs, but also for
coaches, masseurs, doctors, physios,
fitness coaches and club officials, all of
whom can post their biographies and
CVs to raise their profiles within the
game and connect with clubs. Beyond the
primary function of informing and
connecting people and clubs, the aim
of BE-PRO is to create a community
of football lovers, so the website also gives
users an opportunity to chat about tickets,
matches and tours, and exchange other
information of mutual interest.
The BE-PRO database now has 5,444
users and has facilitated hundreds of
transfers within Slovakia and even abroad,
especially after the website’s relaunch this
winter. BE-PRO’s supporters include big
names in Slovakian football past and
present, such as Filip Šebo, Juraj Halenár
and the national team’s all-time leading
goalscorer, Róbert Vittek. The new
platform has a fresh, new look and new
functionalities, and there are currently
more than 200 open ads, from players,
coaching staff and others looking for
clubs, and vice versa.
Roland Nilsson is set to take charge
of Sweden’s national Under-21 team
when they return from
Poland this summer. ”We couldn’t be happier with this
appointment. In his career, Roland has
been contributing to the Swedish national
teams for almost 25 years already.
You only need to take a brief look at his
résumé to see what he’s achieved,” said
Håkan Sjöstrand, general secretary of the
Swedish FA.
Nilsson’s résumé includes 117 caps for
Sweden (1986 to 2000), winning the UEFA
Cup (1987), a World Cup bronze (1994),
four Swedish championship titles (three as
a player, one as a coach), and iconic status
at at least two of his former clubs:
Helsingborgs IF and Sheffield Wednesday
FC. He began his coaching career in 2001
Roland Nilsson
at Coventry City, and continued with stints
at GAIS Göteborg, Malmö FF and FC
København. Since 2014, Nilsson has
coached Sweden’s Under-17 side.
”It will be an honour and a privilege
to keep working with the national teams,
and to bring through a new generation
of players that I already know well.
It’s also an inspiring challenge to build
on the amazing success Håkan Ericson has
had with the Swedish Under-21 side in
recent years,” said Roland Nilsson.
Current coach Håkan Ericson will step
down after the European Under-21
Championship finals in Poland this
summer, where Sweden will be looking to
defend their title from 2015. Roland
Nilsson will then lead the team into
qualifying for the 2019 finals in Italy,
starting in September this year.
Among the 2015/16 graduates are five
former Swiss internationals, namely Vogel
(94 caps), Wicky (75 caps), Lombardo
(15 caps), Walker (10 caps) and Magnin
(1 cap), and two previous Under-21 national
team players, Vanetta and Seoane.
Eleven coaches were recently
awarded UEFA Pro licences at
the house of Swiss football in
Muri, near Berne, having successfully
completed all the various theoretical and
practical units of the Swiss FA’s 2015/16
UEFA Pro licence course.
The coaches in question are Matteo
Vanetta, Gerardo Seoane, Roberto
Cattilaz, Johann Vogel, Thomas Stamm,
Marco Walker, Erminio Piserchia, Joël
Magnin, Marc Duvillard, Raphaël Wicky
and Massimo Lombard – all of whom
successfully completed and passed the
numerous modules and exams.
Obtaining this elite coaching
qualification requires a tremendous
amount of hard work and commitment
over a long period of time, but it opens
the door to coaching at clubs in the
top two Swiss leagues. The licence is
also recognised abroad, in all countries
that are signatories of the UEFA
Coaching Convention.
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 49
Federation (TFF), Servet Yardımcı.
Mr Yardımcı received 34 votes from the
delegates assembled in the Finnish
capital and will serve on the committee
for the next four years.
Besides Mr Yardımcı, the TFF was
represented in Helsinki by its president,
Yıldırım Demirören, vice-president Ali
Dürüst, executive committee members
Cengiz Zülfikaroğlu, Alaattin Aykaç and
Mustafa Çağlar, and general secretary
Kadir Kardaş.
The Ordinary UEFA Congress,
which brings together the
presidents and general
secretaries of all 55 UEFA member
associations, is always a special occasion
and this year’s event, the 41st of its
kind, was no exception. Among the
many important items on the agenda
were elections for eight seats on the
UEFA Executive Committee and one of
those seats went to the first vicepresident of the Turkish Football
From 8 to 11 April the Palace of
Sports in Kyiv played host to some
of Europe’s top futsal teams in a
qualifying mini-tournament for Futsal
EURO 2018. The capital of Ukraine
welcomed the national teams of Croatia
and Belgium, who together with Ukraine
entered the competition directly in the
main round, and Montenegro, one of the
group winners of the preliminary stage.
After two days of matches, Ukraine and
Croatia both remained unbeaten and had
to go head to head on the final matchday
to decide who would get a direct ticket to
Slovenia and who would have to contest
the play-offs.
Oleksandr Kosenko’s team conceded in
the first half, but after the break the
Ukrainians raised the roof in the Palace of
Sports with goals by Mykola Bilotserkivets
and Volodymyr Razuvanov. With this
resolute victory, Ukraine secured their
place in the finals of the European Futsal
Championship alongside Azerbaijan, Italy,
Kazakhstan, Portugal, Russia, Spain and
the hosts, Slovenia. The tournament will
take place in Ljubljana from 30 January
to 10 February 2018.
“We wanted to please the fans who
came to support the team at the Palace
50 – UEFA DIRECT • June 2017
Pavlo Kubanov
of Sports,” Kosenko said after the
mini-tournament in Kyiv. “The final
match was a true final, with two strong
contenders. On some level our will to
win was greater than Croatia’s and we
showed more desire and skill.
Croatia also played well, but we were
the better side. We can’t stop now,
though. The EURO is waiting for us this
winter. We must prepare for the
tournament and do our best to perform
well in Slovenia.”
Dušan Savić (Serbia, 1 June)
Ekaterina Fedyshina (Russia, 1 June)
Ferenc Székely (Hungary, 2 June)
Ivaylo Ivkov (Bulgaria, 3 June)
Radek Lobo (Czech Republic, 3 June)
Klara Bjartmarz (Iceland, 3 June)
John Ward (Republic of Ireland, 4 June)
Yauheni Tratsiuk (Belarus, 4 June) 60th
Mete Düren (Turkey, 4 June)
Jean-Samuel Leuba
(Switzerland, 4 June) 50th
Ludovico Micallef (Malta, 5 June)
Jaap Uilenberg (Netherlands, 5 June)
John MacLean (Scotland, 5 June)
Maksimas Bechterevas (Lithuania, 5 June)
Michael Joseph Hyland
(Republic of Ireland, 6 June)
Lars-Åke Bjørck (Sweden, 7 June) 80th
Michel Sablon (Belgium, 7 June) 70th
Sandor Berzi (Hungary, 7 June)
Onofre Costa (Portugal, 7 June)
Johannes Scholtz (Netherlands, 8 June)
Piero Volpi (Italy, 9 June)
Jesper Møller Christensen
(Denmark, 9 June)
Antoine Portelli (Malta, 9 June)
Petri Antero Jakonen
(Finland, 9 June) 50th
Jonathan Ford (Wales, 9 June)
Monica Jorge (Portugal, 9 June)
Hans Bangerter (Switzerland, 10 June)
Andrew Shaw (England, 10 June)
Eleni Kiriou (Greece, 10 June)
Kyros Georgiou (Cyprus, 11 June)
Thórir Hakonarson (Iceland, 11 June)
Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland, 11 June)
Zoran Dimić (Serbia, 11 June)
José Luis López Serrano (Spain, 12 June)
Alain Courtois (Belgium, 12 June)
Jørn West Larsen (Denmark, 12 June)
Iwona Małek-Wybraniec (Poland, 12 June)
Haris Gvozden
(Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12 June)
Roland Coquard (France, 13 June) 70th
Targo Kaldoja (Estonia, 13 June)
Matej Damjanović
(Bosnia and Herzegovina, 13 June)
Galina Doneva (Bulgaria, 14 June)
Nuno Castro (Portugal, 14 June)
Viacheslav Koloskov (Russia, 15 June)
Miguel Galan Torres (Spain, 15 June) 70th
Vilma Zurze (Lithuania, 15 June)
Alkan Ergün (Turkey, 16 June)
Ramish Maliyev (Azerbaijan, 16 June)
Kepa Larumbe Beain (Spain, 16 June)
Michael Joseph Maessen
(Netherlands, 17 June)
Rainer Werthmann (Germany, 17 June)
Paolo Rondelli (San Marino, 17 June)
Anne Rei (Estonia, 17 June)
Philippe Piat (France, 18 June)
Hannelore Ratzeburg (Germany, 18 June)
Ivan Novak (Croatia, 18 June)
Eduard Prodani (Albania, 18 June)
Elkhan Mammadov (Azerbaijan, 18 June)
Tobias Wolf (Germany, 19 June)
Maria Mifsud (Malta, 20 June)
Peter Peters (Germany, 21 June)
Zoran Cvrk (Croatia, 21 June)
Tomasz Mikulski (Poland, 21 June)
Paulius Malzinskas (Lithuania, 21 June)
Ilja Kaenzig (Switzerland, 21 June)
Keith Stuart Hackett (England, 22 June)
David Martin (Northern Ireland, 22 June)
Ante Kulušić (Croatia, 22 June)
Zvi Rosen (Israel, 23 June) 70th
Vladimir Antonov (Moldova, 23 June)
Georg Pangl (Austria, 23 June)
Jean-Jacques Schonckert
(Luxembourg, 24 June)
Renatus Temmink (Netherlands, 24 June)
Jouni Hyytiä (Finland, 24 June)
Arturs Gaidels (Latvia, 24 June)
Mario Gjurcinovski
(FYR Macedonia, 25 June)
Foppe de Haan (Netherlands, 26 June)
Anja Palusevic (Germany, 26 June) 40th
Nerijus Dunauskas (Lithuania, 26 June)
Barry W. Bright (England, 27 June) 70th
Sigurdur Hannesson (Iceland, 27 June)
Eyjólfur Ólafsson (Iceland, 27 June)
Ruud Dokter (Republic of Ireland, 27 June)
José Venancio Lopez Hierro
(Spain 27 June)
Wim Koevermans (Belgium, 28 June)
Ivan Borissov Lekov (Bulgaria, 29 June)
Paul Daniel Zaharia (Romania, 29 June)
Ginta Pece (Latvia, 29 June)
Peter J. van Zunderd
(Netherlands, 30 June) 70th
Josef ‘Beppo’ Mauhart, former
president of the Austrian Football
Association, died on 7 May at the age
of 83. At UEFA he served as a member
of the Committee for the European
Championship from 1996 to 2000 and
vice-chairman of the National Teams
Committee from 2000 to 2002.
1 June, Cardiff
Executive Committee
19 June, Nyon
UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa
League: first and second qualifying round draws
22 June, Belfast
European Women’s Under-19 Championship:
final round draw
23 June, Nyon
UEFA Women’s Champions League: qualifying
round draw
1 June, Cardiff
UEFA Women’s Champions League: final
3 June, Cardiff
UEFA Champions League: final
7–13 June
European Under-21 Championship:
2017–19 qualifying matches
9–11 June
European Qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup
16–30 June, Poland
European Under-21 Championship:
2015–17 final round
17 June–2 July, Russia
FIFA Confederations Cup
27/28 June
UEFA Champions League: first qualifying
round (first legs)
29 June
UEFA Europa League: first qualifying
round (first legs)
UEFA DIRECT • June 2017 – 51
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