The first final of 2012 – that of the UEFA European Futsal Championship – has just taken place in Zagreb under the watchful eye of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), which was hosting its first major UEFA tournament.
The year has thus begun with a move into uncharted territory, a theme that will be continued with UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, of course, but also with the final rounds of the UEFA European Under-19 and Under-17 Championships, which are being staged in Estonia and Slovenia respectively. And let us not forget the final of the UEFA Europa League, which will be played at the National Arena in Bucharest.
The geographical spread of these major European football events is an excellent example of the increasingly active role taken by UEFA's member associations. More and more of them – regardless of size – are putting themselves forward to organise the final rounds of our competitions. This is a most encouraging development, particularly because the hosting of such events tends to give fresh impetus to football at both regional and national level and provides the associations' executives with valuable organisational and administrative experience.
Moreover, it is not just the individual associations but European football as a whole that benefits from this experience. The entire football family therefore reaps the rewards of events being staged right across the continent.
The same is true of event participation: international competition gives players something to measure themselves by and affords them valuable experience. The UEFA Executive Committee's recent decision to increase to 16 the number of participants in the final round of the UEFA European U17 Championship fits perfectly with this philosophy of casting the net wider to make even greater strides forward.
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.