Kazakhstan has expressed its delight at staging the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress, prime minister Serik Akhmetov speaking of his gratitude for the trust placed in his country.
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Kazakhstan has expressed its honour and delight at hosting the European football family and distinguished guests at the XXXVIII Ordinary UEFA Congress in Astana.
The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Serik Akhmetov, spoke at the Palace of Independence of the need to maintain the development of football in Kazakhstan and marvelled at the pace of football progress in the country since it joined UEFA in 2002.
"The decision [to stage the UEFA Congress in Kazakhstan] was taken in a short timeframe after we became members of UEFA and we are grateful for their trust," said Mr Akhmetov. "Without a doubt, football is the number one sport in Kazakhstan and we take its role very seriously. The decisions taken at this Congress in Astana will become a crucial part of the development of football."
The growth of football in Kazakhstan has been exemplified by FC Shakhter Karagandy becoming the first club from the country to qualify for a group stage of a UEFA club competition (the UEFA Europa League this season), whilst FC Kairat Almaty won the 2012/13 UEFA Futsal Cup and Mr Akhmetov added that infrastructures have been improving at all levels.
"In all schools, children can play football and the standards we have are also reflected in the importance that we give to youth football – we have a youth competition that takes place every year. We hope to build a solid base for football in Kazakhstan from these foundations and I am convinced that the number of players in Kazakhstan will increase."
Football Federation of Kazakhstan (KFF) President Adilbek Jaxybekov welcomed delegates to Astana and thanked UEFA for its ongoing cooperation. "This Congress taking place in Kazakhstan is a symbol of democracy and is also a forum that sets out milestones for us. It's interesting to notice the real festive atmosphere here that is highlighted by the success of the Kazakhstan team at an international level. I would like to highlight that all of the success has taken place thanks to many seminars organised with experts provided by UEFA, as well as the structural and financial support provided by UEFA."
The President of world football's governing body FIFA, Joseph S Blatter, congratulated UEFA on celebrating its 60-year anniversary. "We're in a festive mood because we are celebrating this success story in the world of football. The world of football thanks you UEFA, UEFA President Michel Platini, the UEFA General Secretary, Executive Committee – including a female member – and to the member associations for these 60 years of continuing to write this success story."