The UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying draw in Warsaw on Sunday saw the football community gather in celebration of the European game's health and national-team identity.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino says in the editorial column of the latest edition of official UEFA publication uefadirect that the co-hosting of the 2012 final round by two central-eastern countries – Poland and Ukraine – is also a new chapter in European football history.
"With the whole of the European football family taking part in this festive occasion, it provides a clear and heartening affirmation of the game's undiminished vitality," says Mr Infantino. "The qualifying competition promises to be a fiercely contested affair, with 51 teams battling it out for 14 places in the finals, where they will join the two host nations."
Eight venues – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw (Poland) and Donetsk, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv (Ukraine) – will hold UEFA EURO 2012 matches. The event slogan of Creating History Together, meanwhile, is certainly appropriate as staging the UEFA European Championship in Poland and Ukraine represents a breakthrough moment.
"By entrusting the organisation of the European Championship finals to two countries from central-eastern Europe," says Mr Infantino, "UEFA is writing a new chapter in the history of this internationally renowned event. The qualifying draw in Warsaw represents the first official page in this chapter, but it is, in fact, the culmination of a long period of preparations behind the scenes.
"Last December saw the public unveiling of the EURO 2012 logo, a multicoloured floral motif which symbolises the shared roots of the two host nations and their determination to present Europe and the rest of the world with a magnificent celebration of football," he adds. "There is every reason to believe that it will be just that." Click here for more on the logo.
"We hope that the seeds we have planted in these two countries will continue to spread and grow long after the last ball of EURO 2012 has been kicked. This unique tournament will have a lasting, positive legacy for the development of the two host nations and their football, not to mention for the European football family as a whole.
"Our task," the UEFA general secretary concludes, "is to ensure that this exciting new chapter takes its place in the history books and, even more importantly, in people's minds. But before we can write history, we have to make it!"
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