Fresh from hosting the UEFA European Under-17 Championship draw, Liechtenstein Football Association (LFV) president Reinhard Walser is promising the finalists the best of welcomes come 18 May.
Liechtenstein's neighbour Switzerland plus France, Spain, Portugal, England, Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey will compete for the U17 trophy in Vaduz and Eschen-Mauren next month, in the second UEFA final tournament staged by the principality after the 2003 U19 championship. Walser, whose organisation turned 75 last year, made a promise to the finalists.
We certainly will make sure they receive good hospitality," Walser, the third vice-chairman of the UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee, told UEFA.com. "They will enjoy staying here and find good people, make good friends, find a good atmosphere and be happy to be here."
The 2003 U19 finals were a clear success in that regard, with the final between Italy and Portugal attracting a crowd of over 4,000 to the Rheinpark in Vaduz – not bad for a nation whose population is about 35,000. "It was excellent," said Walser, who became LFV president several months earlier. "That time it was important for us that the Austrian team was very good. This time we hope Switzerland do very well – it is important that our neighbours are in good shape and get to the semi-finals or even the final."
Unlike seven years ago, there will be no Liechtenstein, after the difficult decision was made to withdraw the team because of a lack of available players at that level to compete with Europe's best. "It is a pity, but we have to be honest as it would be an unfair situation if we just lost 30-0 or something," said Walser, who nonetheless is pleased that Liechtenstein's youth will be able to see top-level championship football in the flesh. "Obviously it is a good situation and we are looking forward to it. We certainly benefited in 2003."
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