The new president of the Liechtenstein Football Association (LFV), Matthias Voigt, has visited UEFA's headquarters in Nyon.
Mr Voigt, who was accompanied by LFV vice-president Edy Kindle and general secretary Roland Ospelt, held talks with UEFA President Michel Platini and senior UEFA officials on various matters, including the help given by UEFA to Liechtenstein under its HatTrick assistance programme. Mr Voigt was elected as the association's president at the LFV delegates' meeting in March.
The Liechtenstein Football Association (Liechtensteiner Fussballverband or LFV) represents an Alpine principality of 35,000 people situated between Switzerland and Austria, and its senior national team has played in UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments since 1994. Seven clubs compete in the Swiss league system, and a number of players have distinguished themselves at clubs abroad.
In 2003, UEFA entrusted the LFV with staging the UEFA European Under-19 Championship. Five years later, the UEFA Executive Committee, meeting in Liechtenstein for the first time, named the country as host nation of the 2010 UEFA European U17 Championship. Liechtenstein was also a venue for staff events relating to the UEFA EURO 2008 finals held in Austria and Switzerland.
"It's an important moment for me after being elected, and it is important for us to build up and nurture relations at both national and international levels," Mr Voigt told UEFA.com. "Football is the greatest pastime in the world, but it has also reached a high socio-political importance, and it is a question of working very hard to maintain this status.
"It is important to take up communication, speak with others, and work together to develop further," he added. "The smaller countries also have their contribution to make. We want to contribute – perhaps we have an idea which could be interesting for the football world and we are happy to take ideas from the associations to optimise our [own] structures."
Mr Voigt emphasised the crucial nature of UEFA's assistance, especially through the HatTrick programme. "It is enormously important," he reflected. "We must not forget that Liechtenstein is a very small country. Our whole youth football structure is only possible working alongside Switzerland, so given this background, HatTrick is very important for us – training infrastructures, development of the club's socio-political work, football grounds, technical centres, a stadium, a House of Sport.
"There are many points which help us, of course, to nurture an efficient infrastructure at sports-political level." The major focus of the LFV in the coming years is to foster youth development and produce the players to help the national team prosper.
Mr Voigt hopes to see Liechtenstein play a meaningful role in the qualifying competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia are their group opponents. The dream of dreams would be a genuine tilt at qualification. "Personally, I would like to help in the sustainable development of the LFV," he added.
Liechtenstein is a fine example of how a smaller football association, through its commitment and pride, can make its own invaluable contribution in the further development of the European game.
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