U21 competition goes from strength to strength

The growing stature of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship was underlined by the UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino, at the draw ceremony for the 2011-13 competition.

'The championship has become an important competition for UEFA, its federations and the players'

The qualifying draw for the 2011-13 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying competition has given UEFA the opportunity to highlight the importance of a competition which features the up-and-coming young talents in the European game.

In his address at the draw ceremony at the House of European Football in Nyon on Thursday, UEFA's general secretary Gianni Infantino expressed the view that the U21 event "has indeed become an important competition for UEFA, its member federations and the players. The national associations also put more and more efforts into their preparation to qualify for the final tournament.

"With the 2011 UEFA Under-21 final tournament in Denmark only four months away – and we are sure that it will be a great success – I am particularly thrilled to already launch the next edition that will culminate in June 2013 with the final tournament to be staged in Israel," said Mr Infantino.

"I take this opportunity to address my sincerest congratulations to Israel for its successful bid," he added, "and wish the Israel FA the best of success for what is the first major international football tournament to be held in this beautiful country." Israel was chosen to host the 2013 final tournament by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in Nyon last week.

"For the second consecutive time, all 53 UEFA member associations have entered the 19th edition, which is another clear sign of how the competition has grown over the years," Mr Infantino continued.

"The 2013 Under-21 final tournament in Israel will be a great event," the UEFA general secretary concluded, "and I'm sure that our friends and colleagues from the Israeli FA will be up for it and create excellent conditions to host this top-class event."