The One Year To UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 event on 30 January successfully opened a year of futsal in Slovenia, which will host the 11th edition of the UEFA Futsal EURO between 30 January and 10 February 2018. One-year mark was celebrated in the Arena Stožice in Ljubljana. Slovenia is now waiting for the other 11 participants.
A lot of renowned guests joined the hosts, Football Association of Slovenia with the president Mr Radenko Mijatović and the city of Ljubljana with the mayor Mr Zoran Janković. Ambassadors of the UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 were also revealed. Former Crvena zvezda, Lazio and Inter football star from Serbia Dejan Stanković symbolically passed the ambassadorship to Milenko Ačimovič, member of the first Slovenian football national team that qualified for EURO and World Cup and the Slovenian futsal legend Milivoje Simeunović.
The event, attended by around 40 journalists and almost 100 guests, was closely observed by the UEFA Futsal Competitions Manager Mr Laurent Morel and the Project Leader of UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 Mr Pierre Lienhard. The representatives of the national futsal team of Slovenia, manager Andrej Dobovičnik and captain Igor Osredkar joined the celebration as well.
UEFA Futsal EURO 2018: the biggest UEFA event so far in Slovenia
The UEFA president Mr Aleksander Čeferin sent the opening address, where he emphasized the following: ”The UEFA Futsal Euro is an important event for our organisation and I am delighted it is taking place in my home country of Slovenia. It was a big success one year ago in Serbia and I expect it to be even better next year as we continue to develop this format of football. I have full confidence that the Slovenian Football Association and the local organising committee will succeed in producing a EURO which will promote key values like fair play and respect throughout the tournament.”
Mr Aleksander Čeferin: ”The UEFA Futsal Euro is an important event for our organisation and I am delighted it is taking place in my home country of Slovenia.”
In the name of the Football Association of Slovenia its president Mr Radenko Mijatović thanked UEFA for the opportunity for Ljubljana to host the biggest UEFA event so far in Slovenia and continued: “I have no doubt in the successful delivery of our association. We will try to exceed Serbia which in 2016 hosted the best UEFA Futsal EURO so far. I welcome everyone to join us in this year before the UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 at doing everything in our power, to host an amazing Futsal EURO, so that everyone attending the event will leave Slovenia with great impressions.”
Dejan Stanković passed the ambassadorship
Ljubljana is a city of sport and will host another major European competition less than five years after the successful Eurobasket 2013. Ljubljana is also dear to UEFA Champions League Winner Dejan Stanković, brother-in-law of the Ljubljana’s own former football star Milenko Ačimović. Dejan Stanković comes from Belgrade and passed the ambassadorship to Milenko Ačimović, also his former teammate from Crvena zvezda and the first Slovenian professional futsal player Milivoje Simeunović.
Dejan Stanković came ready to pass on one of the most important roles of any tournament. “It was an honour to be an ambassador of Futsal EURO in Serbia in 2016. I am really looking forward to the championship in Slovenia. Futsal has always been a part of me and I grew up with it. Every footballer started with futsal. I would like to invite every futsal one to come to Futsal EURO in Slovenia, where they will be able to admire the likes of great players like Ricardinho. It is similar to see Messi and Ronaldo. I wish also for Arena Stožice to be full.”
Mr. Dejan Stanković: “I am really looking forward to the championship in Slovenia. I wish for Arena Stožice to be full.”
Milenko Ačimović focused on the even bigger picture of the next UEFA Futsal EURO: “As every other footballer I played futsal at the beginning of my career. I miss seeing children doing the same, playing outdoors, like we did all of the time. I believe UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 can help filling up the football and futsal pitches. It is a great honour to be an ambassador for such a grand event.”
A record 47 teams started this year’s qualification, for the first time joined by Germany. The main qualification round with 7 groups in April will determine the next seven participants of UEFA Futsal EURO 2018, with the last four remaining places decided in qualification play-off just before the official draw on 29 September in Ljubljana.
Igor Osredkar: “I wish as much support as possible in the Arena Stožice”
This will be the fifth consecutive UEFA Futsal EURO for the Slovenian national team, with the best results being the quarterfinal in 2014, but the captain Igor Osredkar stressed the importance of the home crowd coming to support them: “I wish as much support as possible in the Arena Stožice. This would give us an additional push. I think with the help of fans we can succeed. If we are in great shape and everybody is healthy, we can be a big thorn in anybody’s side.”
Slovenia has proven to be able to beat the futsal giants last year when they beat Spain in the first leg of qualification play-off for the Futsal World Cup, becoming the first team to do so in regular time in over a decade.
Together with the One Year to UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 event the official web page was launched and it also offers content in English.