Following the UEFA EURO 2016 logo launch in June, the competition slogan Le Rendez-Vous has now been unveiled. Here the president of EURO 2016 SAS, Jacques Lambert, explains the ideas behind the slogan and its resonance with the tournament.
What is the purpose of the new slogan?
Jacques Lambert: With this slogan, UEFA is sending a message to all football lovers throughout the world: get ready to come to an outstanding tournament starting on 10 June 2016 and to share in some unforgettable celebrations. With 24 teams at the top of their game, everything will be in place to make this the summit of footballing excellence in 2016.
What does the slogan mean to you?
Lambert: Le Rendez-Vous is much more than a reminder of dates – from 10 June to 10 July 2016 – and venues – the ten French host cities. UEFA is sending out an invitation to football fans throughout the world and to lovers of major events, an invitation to meet up and share the emotions of an elite-level tournament. It is also an invitation from France to visitors from the rest of Europe and all over the world to come to this meeting and discover the wealth of tourist and cultural attractions on offer in EURO 2016's host country.
The main inspiration for the recently unveiled UEFA EURO 2016 visual identity was 'the art of football'. Can you give us an idea of how the finals in France will make the most of the country's artistic, cultural or other assets?
Lambert: France's heritage is at the heart of the inspiration for the tournament logo, in which artistic and footballing aspects are drawn together around the Henri Delaunay Cup.
This inspiration is also the guiding influence on our work to promote the EURO with all those involved in the event: the host cities, the government, the French football family, the sponsors, the broadcasters and all the organisations who work to promote our country. It is down to each of these to underline the value of France's assets and to share the strengths and the attributes on which their reputations are based: performance, culture, technology, heritage, gastronomy, nature, etc.
Can you give an overview of the projects currently under way?
Lambert: We are less than 1,000 days from the opening match. The organisation team is taking shape and the work with our major event partners is intensifying. The main deadlines in stadium construction or renovation timetables are being met.
There are several important dates to look forward to in 2014. From a sporting perspective, the qualifying draw will take place at the Palais des Congrès Acropolis in Nice on 23 February. This will tell us the groups in which the 53 participating countries will compete to join hosts France in the 24-team final tournament. The qualifiers get under way next September.
In terms of organisation, hospitality packages go on sale next spring, with the mascot being launched in early autumn 2014. And following the inauguration of the new stadium in Nice last month, the renovations of the grounds in Marseille and Saint-Etienne will be completed in time for the start of the 2014/15 season.
What are the biggest challenges for a successful EURO in France?
Lambert: EURO 2016 is a major event for French football. The first challenge – to modernise an ageing infrastructure – has already been accepted. With the construction of four new stadiums and the renovation of five others, France is bringing itself into line with the leading nations in Europe.
The second challenge is that of international-level organisation, and France has already demonstrated its know-how in this area. Our task is to work together with UEFA to deliver the best possible event. With more teams , more matches  and more spectators [an estimated 2.5 million], EURO 2016 will offer more football, more intensity and more of a spectacle.
But our greatest challenge is to organise a major public event – a peaceful gathering of supporters and nationalities. For this major Rendez-Vous, it is our ambition – as stated in the first few pages of our bid – in 2016 to bring together the best of football, of Europe and of France.
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