UEFA EURO 2020 has drawn closer for Baku, with UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin hailing Azerbaijan's passion for football at the start of a "marvellous journey" for the tournament.
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Azerbaijan and its capital Baku have given the world a glimpse of what it can expect in four years' time at their official UEFA EURO 2020 host city logo launch.
Baku is one of 13 cities that will host UEFA EURO 2020 matches; the city's Olimpiya Stadionu will be the setting for three group games and one quarter-final in European football's most prestigious national-team event.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin was present for the festivities. "I am delighted that we are here in Azerbaijan – a country that is truly passionate about football," he said.
"Azerbaijan became a member of UEFA in 1994, and has had the opportunity to organise European final tournaments at youth level with great success." Azerbaijan held the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final round in May this year, having already staged the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2012 and the 2014 UEFA Futsal Cup finals.
Mr Čeferin described Baku as a vibrant city full of tradition and history.
"It is therefore with great pleasure and anticipation that we will be returning in four years' time," he added.
Baku joins London and Rome in revealing their UEFA EURO 2020 host city logos this month. The remaining ten hosts – Amsterdam, Bilbao, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, Munich and St Petersburg – will all have similar launch ceremonies in the coming period.
The UEFA President hailed the innovative opportunity provided by UEFA EURO 2020 to take the tournament to countries and cities in all four corners of Europe – "to see football acting as a bridge between nations, and to carry the competition closer to the fans," he reflected.
"It will be a marvellous journey ... let's enjoy the adventure that is to come."
Azerbaijan has drawn up a comprehensive football development strategy for the next five years, with the help of UEFA's GROW 2020 development assistance programme.
Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA) President Rovnag Abdullayev emphasised the government's firm support to the country's football authorities. "We hope to continue hosting UEFA events in the future," he said.
"Azerbaijan is already known in the world as a country of sport," added first deputy prime minister Yagub Eyyubov, recalling that the game took root there more than 100 years ago. "We hope that the golden age of Azerbaijani football is yet to come."
Aleksander Čeferin and the UEFA delegation also met the republic's President, Ilham Aliyev, who expressed his confidence in conditions being created in Azerbaijan for young people and children to play the game.