ireland-u17-euro-soccerIreland has won the right to stage the Finals of the UEFA U17 European Championships in 2019.  This comes the year before Dublin is the venue for four games in the Euro 2020 Championship finals and is another major boost for Ireland’s reputation as a host venue for international sport.

The hosting decision was announced by UEFA yesterday.  The tournament will consist of 15 teams qualifying from across Europe and Ireland as the host nation.  It is held every year and the 2018 version will be held in England, giving it a strong boost for Irish fans straight before it comes to Ireland.

The news comes on top of the hosting of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup and European U18 Basketball Championships, both of which will take place next year

The Republic of Ireland team have qualified for the final elite qualifying phase in the tournament in both the men’s and women’s game for 2017.  The Republic of Ireland won this event outright when it was at U16 level back in 1998.  That team was managed by Brian Kerr and included future stars John O’Shea, Andy Reid and Liam Miller.

Rooney and Fabregas

More recent Players of the Tournament have included Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas, Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze.

“This is great news for Ireland and it is, once again, testament to the great work that has been done in partnership with all those who have pledged support with our bidding process,” said FA CEO John Delaney welcoming the news.

“In particular, I would like to thank all of the Dublin regional council authorities, Dublin City Council, South Dublin County Council, Fingal County Council and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, who were tremendous supporters throughout this process.”

“This is a prestigious tournament and will bring the best European underage talent to these shores for what will be a memorable football occasion for all of Ireland.”

Development

The tournament will also be a major boost for the ongoing programme of development of football at under age level.  National Leagues from U15 through U17 and U19 are creating an obvious pathway for talented players to develop in Ireland without having to take the roulette wheel chance of heading to England as was previously the main option.

“This announcement comes on the back of the successes of our Under 17s and Under 19s for both men and women, who have qualified for the Elite Rounds of their respective UEFA European Championship campaigns,” said FAI Director of High Performance Ruud Dokter.

“This news from UEFA is extremely positive for Irish football. Hosting the UEFA European Under 17 Championship Finals in 2019 perfectly fits in with everything we are trying to do with the development of our players.

“We have so much in place now with the progression of the National Leagues, from Under 15 through to Under 19 level, developing the elite pathway for young players in this country. There have been many examples of our young players progressing, such as Cork City excelling in the UEFA Youth League, and this tournament will mean Irish people will get to see the best young players in Europe.”

Commercial

Continental Tyres WNL

From a commercial point of view the news also strengthens the hand of the FAI’s commercial team in reaching out to major sponsors both at home and abroad.

When Continental Tyres came on board as partner of the FAI and sponsors of the Women’s National League they did so with the FAI as their third national partner after the respective Football Associations of England and Germany.

This win will give extra visibility and credibility to the FAI as a small nation of choice for major global sponsors of the game.