UEFA President Michel Platini, FIFA President Joseph S Blatter, Serbian first deputy prime minister and minister of internal affairs Ivica Dačić, and Serbian minister of youth and sport Snežana Samardžić-Marković inaugurated the new Sport Centre of the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) in Stara Pazova, near the capital Belgrade, on Saturday.
The first such national centre in the 115-year history of Serbian football, the project was part-funded by UEFA's HatTrick assistance programme and FIFA's Goal scheme and covers 12 hectares. It includes five grass pitches and one artificial surface, a state-of-the-art fitness block and gym, a restaurant, press room, eight dressing rooms, conference halls and a hotel with 64 double bedrooms and four apartments. The facility will be used by athletes from many sports.
In Saturday's ceremony at the centre, Mr Platini and Mr Blatter were each presented with a gold key by FSS president Tomislav Karadžić in recognition of the contribution made by UEFA and FIFA funding. The dignitaries were also joined at the inauguration by the mayor of Stara Pazova, Goran Jović. They planted trees, unveiled a display of the centre's coat of arms and cut the ribbon at the entrance to the training base.
"I remember well a meeting two years ago when we jointly launched the project in Stara Pazova," Mr Platini said. "And what more beautiful example of cooperation with football organisations has there been than that of this fantastic city? I am proud that today we open this centre, I am very proud of the job done by the Football Association of Serbia, I am very proud of the leadership of the Football Association of Serbia." Mr Blatter, who thanked the government and local authorities for their involvement, added: "This is an open-door centre, like football – football is for everybody."
"On this occasion the Football Association of Serbia, together with its friends, proudly presents to the world the project that bears a huge desire for a lasting bequest to the future of the most popular sport in our country, a mission that has united Serbia, and the fulfilment of a decades-long dream of members of our organisation," Mr Karadžić said.
"Serbian football has obtained its base and its roof, it has acquired its home, thanks to the support of the ministry of sport, its strategic partners and friends from UEFA and FIFA, the good will of the people of Stara Pazova and the decisiveness of the FSS management."
"Today Serbian football has obtained its home, the House of Football," Mr Dačić added. "Through history, the doors of all Serbian hosts have been opened to all travellers – and therefore this Serbian House of Football will be open to all football teams of the world."
While in Serbia, Michel Platini also attended the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final in Novi Sad on Sunday morning.
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