Hryhoriy Surkis, UEFA Vice-President

11.10.2013

 I would like you all to take congnizance of this being the first event of this type in Britain. We are building a new connection to the European business capital. By introducing our ancient traditions and culture, we thus provide Britain with new impetus to get to know Ukraine, a new independent country with ancient historical roots.  London is a remarkable business platform for Europeans to get to know Ukraine.

 

By organizing this event, Foundation of Dmytri and Lada Firtash makes an enormous contribution to establishing good relations between Ukraine and Europe. I believe that after these notable days – 17th to 19th October 2013 - these relations will gain a new impetus.

 

Prior to EURO-2012 many Europeans - and British among them – were reluctant to go to Ukraine. For them it was an enigmatic and obscure country. But when they came back home afterwards, they told their friends and families: “we have discovered a new country for ourselves and we would like you to see it as well, we would like to see it again.”

 

The British football model is everybody’s ideal. It is ideal for attracting investments, for competitiveness of football teams, and ensuring family comfort for the viewers. Today for an advertiser to participate in British football is a source of pride. Many fight for that right.  Ukrainian football is experiencing financial and other difficulties, like the country which is young and developing, it is in need of investments.  That is why although the last match of the Champions League between “Manchester United” and “Shakhter” showed that one might get the better of a high-class rival, in my opinion, our football should aspire to the heights attained by English football over the last decades.  I still remember the times when violent British fans were not allowed to follow their teams to continental Europe, when British clubs were banned from participating in European championships for five years. Then the British government introduced unprecedented measures and all clubs received credits and stadiums were built. This led to the development Brits are proud of today. On the 26thOctober England will celebrate the 150th anniversary of English football. Just think about it – 150 years! Our country is just 22 years old. We still have a lot to learn.

 

At the same time the history of Ukraine is no less captivating. While fighting for our independence, our freedom, Ukrainian boxers won a Gold medal at the Olympic Games. There would have been more victories if judges had been fairer. The difficulties our sport has been experiencing over the last 22 years are the result of budget funding for Olympic sports. This is what differentiates us from the countries that show better results.

 

The Days of Ukraine in Great Britain are very timely. We are very grateful to Dmitry and Lada Firtash who have taken upon themselves a very difficult task. This event is a clear demonstration of their patriotism. Everything had to be adjusted to a millimetre. I have no doubts that meetings at the Parliament and the introduction to Ukrainian culture will be organised in an exemplary way. I am sure people will remark on the undertaking of Dmitry and Lada Firtash amd it will become a model for others to follow. May others catch this virus of love for one’s country. It creates a structure to show one’s patriotism, love for one’s country, through investing in developing good neighbourly relations with countries that might not yet fully feel the magnitude of Ukraine’s potential. 

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