Mr Pierre Lienhard has, after the successful UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 in Belgrade, once again stepped into the role of Project Leader for UEFA’s futsal flagship competition that will happen in Slovenia in January and February 2018. During his first visit to Slovenia in 2017, we discussed UEFA’s demands, strategic planning and opportunities for the nation ahead of UEFA Futsal EURO 2018, and the bright future of futsal.
Are the demands getting higher?
“I would not say our demands are getting higher with each event. UEFA has its demands, but we are here to help the host association to take the most possible from organising this tournament. Additionally, as a project leader I have a personal objective to help Slovenian organisers grow, in sport in general, not just in futsal. This tournament should be seen as a platform for growth during the development of the tournament, but also to create momentum to help the Slovenian sport after the tournament. We would like UEFA Futsal EURO to be constantly considered a top class mega sporting event.”
“We started our mission with a strategic visit to the host football association. We met the staff and visited the facilities at the Arena Stožice as well as the sites to be considered for our official events. We try to create a buzz in the media and on all other platforms. But not only that, UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 aims to be an opportunity to open the eyes of the national and international community to the true value of sport – we want to feel futsal in Slovenia. The social approach that UEFA is striving for, together with the Football Association of Slovenia, will not only engage the next generation; we also aim to promote the values of gender equality, fair play and respect throughout the event.”
Slovenian futsal opportunity
“For me personally, Slovenia has a particular advantage, because Slovenia is considered as a country with many sports activities – indoor as well as outdoor. From what I have read, the Slovenian people like to spend their leisure time actively. The bronze of the handball national team at the World Championship proves that indoor sport has a high worth in this country too.
Slovenia has a particular advantage, because Slovenia is considered as a country with many sports activities.
Being a Swiss citizen, to me Slovenia represents similar values in our cultures, not only from geographical standpoint. It is also a small, a very modern and highly educated country. When we promote our campaign in Slovenia, we aim to meet the people and our next generation face-to-face and to really use our brand to make a difference in schools, football clubs or elsewhere.”
The future of futsal
“There lies a huge opportunity for futsal in my opinion. I lived for four years in the USA and have experienced how well indoor sport can be connected with entertainment. The crowd is closer; everything is more intimate and therefore it is in terms of entertainment easier to create momentum – not only for the fans but also for broadcasters. We will try to leverage our great experience from Serbia 2016. With a modern hall like Arena Stožice I think we can use certain technical elements to create this buzz before, during and after the games.”