UEFA has been intensifying contacts with new member association Kazakhstan on the eve of the new club competition season.
A three-man UEFA delegation has completed a fact-finding mission to the new UEFA member association of Kazakhstan, which included stadium inspections and discussions with the country’s leading clubs.
The delegation, headed by UEFA Stadia and Security Committee chairman Ernie Walker, inspected stadiums in the cities of the three Kazakhstan teams which have qualified for the forthcoming UEFA club competitions – the former capital Almaty, the new capital Astana and Atyrau, on the Caspian Sea.
FC Zhenis Astana will take part in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, while FK Atyrau and FC Kairat Almaty will be competing in the UEFA Cup qualifying round.
UEFA's 52nd association
Kazakhstan – situated in central Asia with a population of 14 million – was admitted as UEFA's 52nd member association at the XXVI Ordinary UEFA Congress in Stockholm in April. The former Soviet Republic had requested admission to European football's governing body after leaving the Asian confederation last year.
"The delegation had an acceptable impression of all of the stadiums inspected," said the UEFA officials on their return. "We will only be making a second inspection of the stadium in Atyrau with respect to the playing field."
UEFA has also been instructing members of the Kazakhstan football community about UEFA's competitions, rules and regulations. At a seminar in Kazakhstan, the managers of 25 of the country's top clubs heard presentations about match organisation, stadium requirements, competition regulations, assistance programmes, kit regulations and financial questions.
Association leaders in Geneva
Kazakhstan Football Union leaders took the opportunity after last Friday's opening club competition draw of the season in Geneva to visit UEFA's headquarters in nearby Nyon. Executive vice-president Tklekbek Akpayev and general secretary Roman Kopytin were also given instructions on UEFA's competition activities to help the latest European association adapt to its new environment as quickly as possible.