Czech hosts set stage for U21 extravaganza

"Everyone is focused on next year," said Czech Republic local organising committee head Petr Fousek as he promised a feast of football at next June's U21 finals.

Petr Fousek at the Under-21 Championship play-off draw
Petr Fousek at the Under-21 Championship play-off draw ©Getty Images for UEFA

The 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship will be a memorable occasion for all Czech football fans as well as those from further afield, according to the head of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Petr Fousek.

The Czech Republic will stage its fourth UEFA final tournament when the group matches get under way on 17 June next year. Four venues will be used, with two — Stadion Letná and Stadion Eden — situated in the picture postcard capital Prague, while the other pair are a comfortable train ride away in the eastern region of the country, Moravia, in the cities of Olomouc and Uherske Hradiste.

"The tournament concept is Group A in Prague, in Bohemia, and Group B in Moravia, so that we cover the whole country," Petr Fousek told during the play-off draw in Nyon. "We didn't want to keep it only in a small region. So we will offer all the fans of the football family from the Czech Republic — but also we hope from abroad — good accessibility to matches."

Though the two legs of next month's play-offs are still to determine which seven teams will join the hosts in the finals, there is little doubt supporters are likely to see not only high-quality football, but also players who have already established themselves as household names. Consequently, Fousek expects fans to flock to games.

"The priority for us is to fill the stadiums and not only be focused on ticket revenue," Fousek stated. "We are fighting for this philosophy. The U21 tournament is not a youth tournament any more. If you look at Israel 2013, the players from Spain, Italy, are playing in the senior teams. This is what we want to offer the spectators. The Czechs love football; they know football, so they will come."

The tournament has also given the Czech Republic a further impulse to develop its football infrastructure, and the quartet of tournament venues are already in place. While Stadion Eden was only opened six years ago, the other three stadiums have undergone facelifts to ensure a superb stage upon which the tournament will unfold.

"They have good capacity, and are of good quality. Three out of the four have been renovated while Eden was used for the UEFA Super Cup, so the facilities will be ready," said Fousek, who also explained that the Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) are single-minded in their ambition to make the finals a soaring success.

"Since we were awarded the tournament, we have been working hard within the LOC. It was established as a priority of the Czech FA from 2012 to 2015. The stadiums, the cities, the federation – everyone is focused on next year.

"The U21 tournament is a fantastic opportunity for an association the size of the Czech Republic to organise such a final tournament. So we are offering our best stadiums, our best cities, a high standard of organisation – because this is the fourth UEFA final tournament we are hosting – and of course Czech hospitality, as always. There will also be top football, because the qualified teams will be the best."