UEFA General Secretary David Taylor has wished 74 European clubs well on what he called the start of their "great adventure" in the UEFA Cup.
"The UEFA Cup in Europe's largest club competition with a diverse mix of clubs from all around Europe," Mr Taylor told club representatives at the draw for the first qualifying round at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon on Tuesday. "It's the start of a long journey for the clubs and supporters that may eventually lead to the UEFA Cup final in Istanbul in May 2009.
Already an achievement
"All clubs represented in the draw have earned the right to participate in European football competitions this coming season – first and foremost by your performances on the pitch last season in your own country, and secondly by meeting the UEFA club licensing requirements for participation in our tournaments," he added. "To be part of this adventure is already an achievement in these early stages."
Mr Taylor emphasised the importance of clubs holding a licence in accordance with the required criteria. "This is a guarantee that certain standards are being met in club administration," he said, "and these minimum standards are now the same across the whole continent of Europe. We aim to create a level playing field allowing sporting merit to be the true factor that determines ultimate sporting success."
The UEFA General Secretary called on the clubs to follow the attitude displayed at an outstanding UEFA EURO 2008™ in Austria and Switzerland. "Here we saw some of the best players in Europe – but one of the most pleasing aspects of the tournament, apart from the quality of the football itself and the behaviour of the fans, was that our new campaign and motto of Respect was widely accepted by all the players and the coaches," Mr Taylor said.
"Our Respect campaign, which now continues at club level from this season onwards, proves that it is possible for football and footballers to show the positive aspects of our sport, and what sport can do for society. This is why I ask you before the coming season to show respect for your fellow clubs, their players, the match officials and both sets of fans."
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