UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, writing in the official UEFA Futsal EURO programme, says that the tournament in his native Slovenia, which starts on Tuesday, will set new standards at a key moment in the sport's development.
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Every major European final tournament creates its own special atmosphere and the 2018 UEFA European Futsal Championship finals will be no exception.
The premier tournament in European national team futsal comes to Slovenia for its latest edition, and is certain to set new benchmarks on and off the field. The event also arrives at an exciting time of development for futsal on this continent, following a series of strategy decisions that will take the sport forward with purpose in the coming years.
This will be the last EURO finals played every two years and featuring 12 teams. Future finals will comprise 16 teams and take place every four years, starting in 2022, meaning that more national associations and players will have the opportunity to perform on this high-profile international stage.
In addition to this, new women’s and national team youth competitions are being launched in 2019, and the UEFA Futsal Cup is to be renamed the UEFA Futsal Champions League from the 2018/19 season. All of these innovations will certainly help to enhance futsal’s profile even further.
The last Futsal EURO, in Belgrade in 2016, produced new records for attendances and the number of goals scored, and demonstrated just how far futsal has come since UEFA began to organise futsal tournaments in the mid-1990s. Slovenia is keen to raise the bar even higher this time around. The impressive Arena Stožice in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana will be an ideal setting for the very best that European national team futsal can offer.
I am proud that my native Slovenia is hosting this tournament, and I hope that the teams, their fans and everyone involved in the event will enjoy their time in the country, which has many attractions and sights to savour. My thanks go to the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) for staging the Futsal EURO, and I am sure that we can look forward to plenty of excitement and entertainment, with the finals played in a true spirit of fair play and respect.