Draw milestone one of many for women's game

If 2011 is going to be a big year for women's football then it is a fitting time to start off along the road to UEFA Women's EURO 2013, say Gianni Infantino and Mircea Sandu.

It is a big year for women's football, starting with the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany
It is a big year for women's football, starting with the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany ©Getty Images

Exciting times lie ahead for women's football as it continues to flourish – with UEFA's support ensuring the women's game will carry on developing throughout Europe.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino and the chairman of the UEFA Women's Football Committeee, Mircea Sandu, emphasised both the efforts that are ongoing to promote and nurture the women's game, and the rise in quality that has been clear over recent years.

"2011 is a big year for women's football in Europe," said Mr Infantino at Monday's qualifying group stage draw in Nyon for the 2011-13 UEFA European Women's Championship.

"On the field, reigning world and European champions Germany are hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup, which promises to mark several milestones in the women's game. Over 50,000 tickets have already been sold for the opening match in Berlin's Olympiastadion on 26 June, which will set a European attendance record for women's football.

"We are very pleased that Steffi Jones, president of the LOC for the FIFA Women's World Cup, is able to join us here for the draw.

"Off the field, UEFA has just committed to an unprecedented investment in the development of the women's game, with over €21m to be made available to national associations for women's football development projects over a four-year period starting in 2012."

Mr Infantino also thanked Lars-Åke Lagrell, president of the Swedish Football Association (SvFF), for his efforts to organise a successful European Women's Championship final tournament in 2013.

In his address at the draw ceremony, Mircea Sandu described the draw as an "important milestone on the road to Sweden".

"We have already seen interesting matches during the preliminary round and we can expect much more to come throughout the group stage, from September 2011 to September next year. Until the next draw, ahead of the final tournament, there are 176 qualification matches across Europe to determine the 11 sides that will challenge the hosts, Sweden, for the crown of European champion.

"Sweden has also hosted the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1995," Mr Sandu added, "and more recently it was the venue for the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Therefore I have no doubt that the final tournament of the 2011-13 UEFA European Women's Championship will set a new quality standard for this competition."