Northern Ireland big moment arrives with UEFA support | Within UEFA
When Chelsea and Villarreal captains César Azpilicueta and Raúl Albiol lead their teams for the UEFA Super Cup match in Belfast on Wednesday night, the big occasion will not just be the start of the last season of European club football. , but also the first time that a major UEFA club event has taken place in Northern Ireland.
Windsor Park National Football Stadium opened in 1905 and takes its place in the spotlight as Chelsea, last season’s UEFA Champions League winners, and Villarreal, UEFA Europa League title-holders, s ‘face in the current campaign. raise the curtain.
“UEFA decided several years ago to take the Super Cup to Europe, and Northern Ireland is the last of our member associations to have the chance to host this great international football competition,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.
“Windsor Park is the home of Linfield FC and the Northern Ireland national team and has been the site of countless memorable matches. The Irish Football Association is a loyal and dedicated member of UEFA, and we are certain that she will appreciate the challenge of organizing a match of this importance.
Previous UEFA Super Cup hosts (single match format)
2020: Puskás Arena, Budapest
2019: Beşiktaş Stadium, Istanbul
2018: Lilleküla Stadium, Tallinn
2017: National Arena Filip II Macedonian, Skopje
2016: Lerkendal Stadium, Trondheim
2015: Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi
2014: Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
2013 Eden Arena, Prague
1998-2012: Louis II Stadium, Monaco
Renovated room ready for the big stage
Windsor Park stadium, named after the area in south Belfast where it is located, underwent a £ 38million refurbishment from 2014, with help from UEFA’s HatTrick assistance program , which uses the money generated from EURO tournaments to help develop the game across Europe.
Three new stands were built, as well as the new headquarters of the Irish Football Association (IFA), which is now located in the East Stand. The renovated venue was officially opened on October 8, 2016 with Northern Ireland’s 4-0 victory over San Marino in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match. is in place, the stadium has a capacity of over 18,000 people.
“Windsor Park is my Wembley,” said Linfield manager David Healy, who scored 36 goals in 95 appearances for his country between 2000 and 2013. It was here that the former striker became a national hero by grabbing giant winning goals. against England in 2005 and Spain almost exactly a year later.
“Honestly, there is no pitch like this for me,” said Healy, who has won the Northern Ireland Premiership title four times and twice in the league and the cup since. he took over as Linfield in 2015. “I’ve always dreamed of playing. at Windsor Park, not at Wembley. “
HatTrick finances bright future for young stars
Thanks to HatTrick’s continued support, more young talent from Northern Ireland can dream of emulating Healy’s exploits for the national team.
The new Irish FA-UEFA Elite Youth Academy, located 12 kilometers outside Belfast, offers young players a high-quality environment to develop their sporting, academic and life skills.
By preparing players for the transition from junior to professional football, the academy aims to build, develop and maintain a pool of high-quality footballers to give the national team the best chance of qualifying for major international tournaments.
The program is part of UEFA’s Elite Youth Academy program, with Northern Ireland joined by Finland and Israel. The IFA receives more than € 200,000 each year for the running costs of its academy.
The UEFA Elite Youth Academy program
HatTrick – UEFA’s helping hand to national associations
As a non-profit organization, UEFA is committed to reinvesting as much as possible of the income generated by its national team and club competitions in the development of football.
Since 2004, the UEFA European Championships have funded the HatTrick development program, through which UEFA distributes an average of 195 million euros each year to the 55 national associations in Europe. The money supports a wide variety of football development activities, such as improving infrastructure, supporting women’s football, launching social responsibility activities and organizing courses for coaches and referees.
By 2024, HatTrick will have funneled a cumulative 2.6 billion euros into projects across the continent, making it one of the biggest development initiatives in sport.
The program’s contribution to the long-term well-being of European football has seldom been more clear than in the past two seasons, when clubs, leagues and associations struggled to cope with the loss of income due the decrease in the number of matches and the decline in ticket sales. After reassuring the associations in April 2020 about its next HatTrick commitment over four years (equivalent to 775.5 million euros from 2020 to 24), UEFA has released a total of 236.5 million euros for the member associations invest in the protection of their national game and take up the challenges arising from the covid19 pandemic.