A busy week of travel continued for the UEFA president, Michel Platini, on Tuesday and Wednesday when he visited Chisinau to take part in celebrations to commemorate 100 years of football in Moldova.
Mr Platini attended the festivities for Moldova's footballing centenary while also taking the opportunity to meet officials from the Football Association of Moldova (FMF) – which was also marking its 20th anniversary – and the country's prime minister Vladimir Filat.
With the first recorded soccer match in the eastern European republic having take place in August 1910, the centenary celebrations dominated the first part of the UEFA president's trip to the Moldovan capital after his arrival from Georgia on Tuesday. Mr Platini participated in a special anniversary event after first attending a veterans match between teams from Moldova and Georgia. "It is a pleasure for me to be back in Moldova to mark 100 years of football and 20 years since the establishment of the Football Association of Moldova," he said.
The UEFA president's third visit to the country in five years continued into Wednesday morning as he met Moldovan prime minister Vladimir Filat for talks focusing on cooperation between the state and the national football association. His final engagement was a tour of the FMF's national teams training centre in Vadul-lui-Voda where he was introduced to Moldova players and their head coach Gavril Balint.
Afterwards Mr Platini praised the work of the FMF and its president Pavel Cebanu, telling a news conference: "Football in Moldova has all the prerequisites for a great future. The FMF president has laid solid foundations for future success. The training facilities are a perfect example of sound football investment. I am pleased the FMF board understands the importance of a proper football infrastructure."
Mr Cebanu thanked his European governing body counterpart for his presence on what had been "a big day for Moldovan football" – saying of the timing of his guest's two-day stay: "Historians have recorded 29 August 1910 as the day when the first football match was played in Moldova. On 14 April we also celebrated 20 years of the Football Association of Moldova. Over this period we have been working for the good of the game and I want to express my gratitude to all who have been part of this process. It's very important now that the next generation fall in love with football and start to play an active role."
Mr Platini, who was due to fly from Chisinau to the Republic of Ireland later on Wednesday for the third and final leg of a quick-fire European tour, signed off by expressing UEFA's full support for the current FMF administration. "We are on the same side and are working for the well-being of the game."
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