Ljubljana, 28 June 2016 – The UEFA Futsal EURO Countdown clock, unveiled in April (VIDEO), ticked down to 218 days to go until UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 in Slovenia on 26 June, and the local organising committee marked the milestone with a successful record-breaking futsal relay almost 7km long with 174 participants from the Slovenian futsal community and their supporters. The special guest was the Spanish international Miguelín, and also part of the event was a bridge-building Under-13 futsal match between teams from 2016 host city Belgrade and their successors Slovenia, and a well-attended Media match involving the ambassadors of UEFA Futsal EURO 2018.
The relay started in front of the Countdown clock in the city centre, where the President of The Football Association of Slovenia Mr Radenko Mijatović joined forces with UEFA.com’s Golden Player at the last UEFA Futsal EURO in Belgrade Miguel Sayago Martí, known as Miguelín in the futsal world.
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Mr Mijatović from the FA of Slovenia opened the event: “I’m happy to welcome everyone in front of our Countdown clock in the name of The Football Association of Slovenia and honoured to perform the first kick of the relay together with Miguelín even though we did our first organisational kick months ago. Miguelín, who made his national team debut against Slovenia in 2012, coming to our event, is a proof that Slovenia has already become the epicentre of futsal in Europe and this futsal heat will intensify in the months up to the first whistle blown in Arena Stožice.”
The relay consisted of female and male futsal players, youth players, coaches, referees and other prominent supporters, including the coach of the Slovenian national football team, Srečko Katanec. Miguelín was only the first of 174 participants who passed one ball through five stages of 6.75 kilometres across the streets and parks of Ljubljana. Members of 13 Slovenian futsal clubs were involved, together with 19 stage coordinators. The relay ended 74 minutes later at Arena Stožice, the venue where UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 will be held from 30 January to 10 February.
“I’m proud to a part of this great event. I haven’t heard of an idea like this one. Furthermore, the LOC in Slovenia succeeded in making this idea a reality. Being aware of my mission, I really hope to help futsal to gain in popularity even more. Certainly in Slovenia, that’s why I was happy to respond to the invitation. I’m going home in high spirits, enriched by new friendships and connections I’ve made in Ljubljana,” said Miguelín who passed the ball to Slovenian national team members Alen Fetić and Gašper Vrhovec.
Miguelín: “I’m proud to a part of this great event. I’m going home in high spirits, enriched by new friendships and connections.”
Captain of the Slovenian national team Igor Osredkar, the record-holder for appearances and goals in the team (133/67), was the last in the relay. “When the club season ends there isn’t much going on in futsal around Europe. Not in Slovenia! I can only compliment the organisers for such a great event. This is a great encouragement for the players, who can’t wait for UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 to start.“The visitors from Serbia won the U13 futsal match between Belgrade and three Slovenian clubs, but more importantly a bridge between the two UEFA flagship competitions was clearly seen once again. 26 June was also a Media day, where representatives from 11 media outlets in Slovenia joined the Media match of the ambassadors of UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 – the best ever Slovenian futsal player, Milivoje Simeunović, and a member of the Slovenian football generation that qualified for the football UEFA EURO and the FIFA World Cup for the first time, international star Milenko Ačimović. The friendly ended 6-6 to mark another futsal day in Slovenia and a lot of optimism before the 11th UEFA Futsal EURO commences.