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Distinguished guests speak in Vienna

The presidents of Austria, the Austrian Football Association and FIFA all spoke at the XXXIX UEFA Ordinary Congress, expressing their enthusiasm for UEFA's ongoing work.

ÖFB president Leo Windtner addresses the UEFA Congress
ÖFB president Leo Windtner addresses the UEFA Congress ©Getty Images for UEFA

Austria has expressed its delight at writing the latest chapter in its football history by hosting the European football family and distinguished guests at the XXXIX UEFA Ordinary Congress.

The President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, celebrated the role of football in Austrian society during his address to delegates in Vienna and acknowledged the parallel stories of UEFA and Austrian football.

"Football is exceptionally popular in Austria and its roots here go all the way back to the 19th century," said Mr Fischer by video message. "Many matches over the last 120 years have acquired cult status. The same is true of individual players – and not just Austrian players either, but also players from other countries.

"I know that UEFA was established in 1954, which was also the year of the dramatic FIFA World Cup in Switzerland, where Austria managed an admirable third place. Not long afterwards, in 1955, the first UEFA Congress was held in Vienna. For Austria, 1955 was also the year in which we signed the State Treaty, so it was a year of great historical significance and one that we have fond memories of. This year marks the 60th anniversary of those events.

"This is now the fourth time that UEFA, European football's governing body, has held its annual Congress in Vienna. I wish you fruitful discussions. It is in all of our interests – and the interests of football as a whole – for this to be a successful and productive Congress."

Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) president Leo Windtner welcomed the contemporary challenges for European football, especially with the European Qualifiers and the development of the UEFA Nations League.

"The further development of football is our most important concern," said Mr Windtner. "We must ensure that all age groups, whether male or female, are inspired by football, irrespective of their ethnic origins. Our national teams are the drawing cards – the stars are role models for youngsters. It is our priority to further develop football's attractiveness as the top sport on our continent – and all criminal forces, such as match-fixing or fan disturbances, must be confronted with the utmost decisiveness."

FIFA President Joseph S Blatter commended Germany on their 2014 World Cup success and praised the ongoing work in European football. "In Europe, you will find the origins of the most popular sport of all time and we have now spread the word to 300 million participants and 1.6 billion people worldwide who are directly or indirectly involved," he said. "We ask for European football to promote the popularity of our game."