Baku to stage 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship

By Amina Nazarli

Azerbaijan, where sport is an integral part of society and athletes enjoy a great respect, will soon be venue for the 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals from May 5 to 21.

President Ilham Aliyev signed on February 15 an order on ensuring the holding of the 15th edition of the UEFA European Championship 2016 in Baku.

The relevant agencies are instructed to take necessary measures to ensure security of the championship, the organization of protection, prevention of possible emergency situations during the tournament and elimination their consequences.

The president also signed an order aiming at simplification of visa procedures for foreigners and stateless persons who will arrive to Azerbaijan in connection with the Championship.

Azerbaijan was selected to hold the annual international youth football championship organized by UEFA in March 2012.

The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.

The eight group winners and the seven runners-up with the best records against the teams first and third in their section will join hosts Azerbaijan in the finals. The draw will be on April 8.

The tournament will be the first UEFA youth finals staged by Baku, though the capital city was the venue for the 2014 UEFA Futsal Cup finals and also hosted the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.

The Azerbaijan U17 team will be the first to represent the nation in any UEFA football final tournament. Azerbaijan played at UEFA Futsal EURO 2010, 2012 and 2014, and has qualified for the 2016 finals.

Azerbaijan, which is also known as the Land of Fire, has already become one of the sports centers of the world.

This manifests itself through the great results of national athletes achieved at the international competitions, World and European championships and Olympics, as well as the high level sport events that the country hosted.

After successfully hosting the impressive 17-day European Games in 2015, Baku is in anticipation of holding even more major sporting events such as FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics, 2016 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe, World Chess Olympiad, IV Islamic Games and the quarterfinals and three group games for Euro 2020.

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Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli

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