City of Wind, Land of Fire
Boost for Azerbaijan football
Friday, 11 November 2005
UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson – reflecting UEFA's wish to monitor the progress of football in its 52 member associations – has paid a visit to Azerbaijan.
Mr Olsson was accompanied on his trip by UEFA HatTrick Project manager Bruno Wolfisberg, with talks taking place with senior government officials and members of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA).
Red Bridge meeting
The CEO's visit was due to begin in the capital Baku. However, by mutual agreement, it was decided by the AFFA bodies to meet Mr Olsson on the Red Bridge located in the border with Georgia, to show him the infrastructures in the region. Mr Olsson, met by AFFA general secretary Fuad Asadov, was briefed about the building of a stadium and mini-pitch with artificial grass (UEFA HatTrick assistance project) in the city of Tovuz, and told about football developments in the region by Tovuz city head Hamid Bagirov.
The guests then toured the cities of Yevlakh, Imishli and Lankaran. Mr Olsson, together with Yevlakh city head Elmar Valiyev, looked at the stadium and base for the Karvan football club that is currently being constructed. The UEFA members were impressed with the building of the Imishli stadium and Lankaran stadium – both of which meet European club licensing requirements.
The visit to Baku started with a look at the construction of the new AFFA administrative building. The UEFA officials were received by the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Arthur Rathizade. During the meeting, which was also attended by Mr Asadov and AFFA president Ramiz Mirzayev, Messrs Olsson and Wolfisberg were informed about the Azerbaijan Republic's State Programme for Football Progress (2005-2015) – ratified by Azerbaijan state president Ilham Aliyev last month – which highlights the state's desire to nurture the game in the country.
Messrs Olsson and Wolfisberg pointed out that UEFA's objective is to continuously foster the progress of Europe football. The implementation of many projects in Azerbaijan and the state's interest were considered as a positive development which promised progress.
The CEO later visited the Shafa national stadium in Baku, the construction of which has been financed mainly by UEFA. He told reporters that Azerbaijan is an exemplary country in this field, and could be considered a model for others in the region.
Mr Mirzayev said he greatly appreciated UEFA's aid for Azerbaijan football, and informed Mr Olsson about the association's plan to build 40 artificial pitches for the benefit of youngsters, under aid provided by UEFA's HatTrick assistance scheme.
Mr Mirzayev said the AFFA will continue the implementation of projects with the support of the state and international football organisations, with the aim of pushing the country up the European football ladder.
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