UEFA president Michel Platini witnessed Georgian football's developing infrastructure at first hand during a visit to the Caucasus state in which he met high-ranking officials including the country's prime minister Nika Gilauri.
Arriving in Georgia's capital Tbilisi on Monday, Mr Platini had the opportunity to see the improvements that are being made to the local sporting facilities during a tour of the Georgian Football Federation's (GFF) redeveloped headquarters as well as the Basa training ground and the city's two main football arenas – the Boris Paichadze National Stadium and the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium.
The UEFA president's discussions with GFF officials were supplemented by meetings with Georgia's leading politicians including prime minister Nika Gilauri, sports minister Lado Vardzelashvili, and the mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava. The talks gave him a deeper understanding of the Georgian authorities' desire to develop the country's football infrastructure, Mr Platini said.
The UEFA president told a news conference: "I knew that the GFF was keen to host some UEFA tournaments but only during this trip have I understood the strength of this feeling. I am also happy to see that the GFF has such a strong relationship with the government and the local mayor. We have passed onto the mayor the list of requirements needed to be in place to make [Tbilisi] a candidate [for hosting a UEFA event]."
Mr Platini added that recent changes to the access lists for the UEFA club competitions now gave the representatives of smaller national football associations such as Georgia a stronger chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League group stage.
GFF president Domenti Sichinava said that Mr Platini's visit – his second to the southeastern European nation – had marked another step forward for Georgia as a footballing country. "The UEFA president expressed a willingness to cooperate and help with our reforms, and he also had the chance to measure the pace of change in Georgian football," he said. "We now aim to bring the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium up to UEFA standards in the very near future."
The UEFA president left Georgia for Moldova and its capital Chisinau on Tuesday to take part in football centenary celebrations being organised by the Football Association of Moldova (FMF).
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