The organisation of the final phase of EURO 2024 U17 is the biggest challenge not only for 2024 but also in general, the President of the Cyprus Football Association, George Koumas, told CNA on Sunday, adding that it is the biggest football event ever held in Cyprus.
He noted that 2024 brings rich competitive action for all Cypriot national teams “and we hope that the results will be such that will demonstrate the progress we want to have as Cypriot football at the national level, beyond the club level.”
Asked what 2023 leaves behind, Koumas replied that 2023 was an intense year for the Association, a year with many events that will be a benchmark for the future.
“We had a very competitive first division with Aris Limassol winning the first league in its history, we had the massive return of fans to the stadiums with 552,000 tickets sold, a record attendance since 2010. The UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Cyprus last September shows the confidence that the leadership of European football has in our FA,” he added.
Also, Koumas continued, last November UEFA chose Cyprus to host the annual Club Licensing and Financial Sustainability conference, another challenge which was successfully completed.
“We are particularly proud to have been presented with UEFA’s highest award in 2023 for the work we do in grassroots football. The UEFA Golden Grassroots Award increases our commitment to the thousands of boys and girls who play their favourite sport in our country every day,” he added.
He also stressed that particularly important for 2023 was the signing of the memorandum of cooperation between the CFA and the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth to teach football in primary schools through the training of teachers by the CFA Football School.
He also pointed out that “the results of our Men’s National Team in 2023 did not leave us satisfied and this was something that was of great concern to us.”
“We brought the fans to the stadium for the national team matches and our big challenge is to keep them through positive results in the next competition we will participate in, the Nations League. We were pleased with the first wins of the Women’s National Team in official matches, and we hope for an even better continuation,” he noted.
At the same time, Koumas said, “in 2023 we continued CFA’s social responsibility programme with the implementation of the ‘Pass to Life’ programme in cooperation with UEFA and the Cyprus Anti-Drugs Council.”
“The implementation of similar programmes for the benefit of society will certainly continue in 2024,” he added.
Asked what is expected for the CFA in 2024 and what challenges or outstanding issues the Association will be facing in the new year, Koumas said that the organisation of the final phase of EURO 2024 U17 is the biggest challenge for the Association, not only for 2024 but also in general.
“This is the biggest football event ever held in our country. From 20 May to 5 June, we will be at the heart of football in Europe. Organisationally, we have a lot of work to do to carry out this great event entrusted to us by UEFA and already everyone in the Association has been working in this direction for months,” he added.
He also said that EURO U17 2024 is expected to attract a large number of visitors to Cyprus with all the positive consequences, financial and otherwise.
“All matches will be broadcast live on TV across Europe by EUROSPORT, which entails huge visibility for our country. In the period that follows, and as we get closer to the start of the event, the CFA will promote our island in various ways to major European countries, both as a tourist and a football destination. We are proud that in this effort we will have as event ambassadors our Olympic champions Pavlos Kontides and Karolina Pelendritou, whom I take this opportunity to thank again,” he noted.
Apart from EURO 2024, Koumas said, an important outstanding issue remains the securing of planning permission for the Sports Centre in Kornos.
“Unfortunately, there are some delays that are not due to us and I hope that 2024 will be the year when this big project will start to be implemented in practice. Beyond that, 2024 brings rich competitive action for all our national teams and we hope that the results will be such that will demonstrate the progress we want to have as Cypriot football at the national level, beyond the club level,” he added.
In a message for the new year, the CFA President wished to all the fans and entire world a good football year.
He also noted that “we are used to difficulties, we have learned to overcome them and this is what we will continue to do in 2024, never forgetting that, football does not belong to us but we have simply been called to serve it.”