Former Swedish international Patrik Andersson is an enthusiastic international ambassador for UEFA Women's EURO 2013 and talks to UEFA.com about promoting the game.
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Patrik Andersson helped hosts Sweden reach the EURO '92 semi-finals so is an appropriate choice to promote another major continental event in his home nation.
Sweden stages UEFA Women's EURO 2013 from 10 to 28 July and Andersson is one of two international ambassadors for the finals along with former Germany defender Steffi Jones. Andersson played in Sweden, England, Germany and Spain – all nations represented in next summer's showpiece – and the 2001 UEFA Champions League winner with FC Bayern München, now a club director at two time Swedish women's champions FC Malmö, sat down with UEFA.com to look ahead to the competition.
UEFA.com: How are preparations going?
Patrik Andersson: Really good. We have built some new stadiums: at this moment I am thinking of Kalmar, and also Vaxjo, and then the stadium in Linkoping will be brand new at the beginning of next year. Then our flagship arena, the Friends Arena in Stockholm, hosts the final, so it looks good.
UEFA.com: Can Sweden challenge Germany for the title?
Andersson: Well, first of all I've seen that Germany have won the last five times, so they are always a favourite. But now we have a new coach, Pia Sundhage, who did really good work over there in the States. And hopefully she can bring in some winning mentality to the team. And I think she is also a coach who can get out the best of each player.
UEFA.com: How did you become involved in women's football?
Andersson: I got a question if I was interested in a board place at Malmö three years ago, and I know some of the directors there, and also some of the girls in the team, so I wanted to try to support the team and the girls. I think it's important to support local teams.
What are your impressions of women's football in Sweden and in Europe?
Andersson: The numbers of players are growing; I think we have 90,000 licensed players at the moment, and also with the growth of all the competitions – the EURO, the World Cup, the Champions League now for women, and also the Olympic Games – it's on a good course.
UEFA.com: Malmö are in the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finals, where they fell last season. How far can they go this time?
Andersson: For sure the last four. Last year Malmö went out against Frankfurt. But the German teams are always doing well, and Lyon as well, playing really good football.
UEFA.com: Do you think the finals will encourage more young girls in Sweden to take up football?
Andersson: I hope so. We hosted the U21s in 2009, and did really well, and I am sure we will do really well this time also. When the national teams are doing well, or the women's teams are doing well in the Champions League, that increases the interest, for sure.