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Vassallo hopes UEFA Under-19 European Championships leave lasting legacy in Malta

Malta FA president Bjorn Vassallo. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

MFA president Bjorn Vassallo said that he is hopeful that the U-19 European Championship finals, which will be staged this summer, will leave a lasting legacy and inspire young players to dream of representing their country at the highest level. The Malta FA chief addressed the media yesterday during the official launch of the continental finals that will be staged in Malta between July 3 and 16.

This is the second major international football tournament that the Malta FA has been entrusted to organise after it had staged the U-17 European Championship finals way back in 2014.

“This is by far the biggest tournament that Malta has been entrusted to organise since we hosted the U-17 Championships in 2014,” Vassallo told the media.

“I would like to show my gratitude towards UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin who has always wanted that small countries are given the opportunity to host major tournaments and being given this opportunity is a testament that he means what he says.

“No doubt, the next four months will be an exciting period for Maltese football fans as they can watch some top teams in Malta as after having Italy here last weekend, England will be facing our senior national team in the Euro 2024 qualifiers in June, and then we will have the continent’s top U-19 sides who will compete in the tournament along with our national team.

“There is great expectancy for this tournament and we hope that this tournament will leave a lasting legacy on Maltese football and more importantly inspire young children that one day they will be able to represent their country at the highest level.”

Vassallo said this tournament will attract the eyes of all the top scouts of major teams in the world and no doubt it will be a great showcase for Maltese players to show their ability and maybe secure a move to a foreign club.

The final list of the participating teams that will play in the European Championship finals was finalised on Tuesday as hosts Malta were joined by Greece, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.

Defending champions England were surprisingly knocked out by Iceland in what was one of the biggest upsets of this year’s competition.

MFA general secretary Dr Angelo Chetcuti announced that the draw of the final tournament will take place on April 19 at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta, starting at 1pm.

Chetcuti said that the Malta FA will be using its four main stadiums to host the matches this summer, namely the National Stadium, the Centenary Stadium, the Tony Bezzina Stadium, and the Gozo Stadium.

The MFA general secretary said that the key objectives of the association ahead of the tournament will be to not only promote the tournament but to try to maximise stadium attendance so that they can deliver a great event experience.

“Obviously one of our main goals is to try and optimise our revenue from the tournament and in fact we have already
secured the sponsorship agreement of Visit Malta and BeExclusive!, which are the Commerce Department’s intellectual property campaign.

Meanwhile, it was also announced that Michael Mifsud and Joseph Mbong will be the ambassadors of the

Legendary Maltese forward Mifsud is also the country’s most-capped player with a total of 143 appearances and the all-time top scorer for the national team with 42 goals.

Mbong forms part of the Malta national team with 46 appearances. Earlier in his career, Mbong was also a member of the Malta Under-17 team that competed in the European Championship finals in Malta in 2014.

On his part, Dr Clifton Grima, the Minister for Sport, heaped praise on the Malta FA for successfully earning the right to host these prestigious championships in Malta.

“Malta sports lovers have a great summer to look forward to as in the next four months, there are going to be two major sporting events being held in Malta, namely the Games of the Small States of Europe, which start in late May and the U-19 Championships in July,” Grima said.

“It is going to be a great festival of top-class football which I am sure all football lovers in Malta will be eager to watch
and hopefully, this tournament will see youngsters enjoy themselves support their national team and inspire them to dream of playing for their country in the future.”

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