UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino expects a thrilling second half to the UEFA Europa League season, featuring 14 UEFA trophy winners and exciting games played in a good spirit.
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The 2012/13 UEFA Europa League season has stepped up a gear, with the knockout phase heralding the start of an exciting climax which will see no fewer than 14 clubs with at least one UEFA competition title ready to challenge for the trophy.
"Congratulations are due to all 32 clubs from 16 different national associations who have reached the knockout stage of the competition," UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino told today's draw ceremony for the rounds of 32 and 16 at the House of European Football in Nyon.
"Now, as we go into the phase of home and away ties, we need to be especially conscious of the need to offer the fans some entertaining football and to make sure the parties are not spoiled by unsporting or racist attitudes. This is a key element as we continue to build the status of a successful continent-wide club competition."
The 2012/13 UEFA Europa League final will be played in the impressive Amsterdam ArenA on 15 May next year. The draw hall was notable for its 'Destination Amsterdam' visual identity, blending UEFA Europa League branding with the colours and flavours of the historic Dutch city.
"There are still 60 games to be played before we know which clubs will be in Amsterdam to contest the title," Mr Infantino told the club representatives. "But I am sure you will do your best to make this a memorable UEFA Europa League season."
Mr Infantino conveyed the best wishes of UEFA and the European football family to FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, who is to undergo surgery after the relapse of a cancer in the salivary gland.