Thursday 08 February 2024, 10:45

FIFA President pledges support to Ukraine for football's "continuous growth"

  • Gianni Infantino meets newly elected Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) President Andriy Shevchenko

  • Head of UAF says FIFA is an "important international connection" for Ukraine

  • Former Ukraine international striker Shevchenko was appointed in January 2024

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the newly elected President of the Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF) Andriy Shevchenko have discussed future points of collaboration at a meeting in Paris, France. Shevchenko, a former Ukraine international, was elected head of the UAF on 25 January 2024, stepping into the role with his country in the midst of a conflict that has changed the nation’s football landscape. Ukraine's national teams have continued to play, albeit in other countries, staging home matches in Poland and Germany among others.

Ukrainian Association of Football General Secretary Igor Gryshchenko, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, UkrainianFA President Andriy Shevchenko and FIFA Director Member Associations Europe Elkhan Mammadov during a FIFA Meeting at the FIFA Paris Office

"I was delighted to meet Andriy Shevchenko once again, this time following his election as President of the Ukrainian Association of Football. As a player, Andriy Shevchenko inspired a nation, and as President of the Ukrainian Association of Football, I am convinced he will do the same," said Mr Infantino. "Ukrainian football has maintained impressive momentum lately during a difficult period, and thanks to his energy, President Shevchenko will give the beautiful game in his country extra impetus, and we are here to support their continuous growth on and off the pitch."

While success at men's U21 level has earned Ukraine a first participation at the Olympic Games in Paris this summer, the men's senior team still has the opportunity to qualify for the upcoming UEFA European Championship under Shevchenko's former international teammate and current national team head coach, Serhiy Rebrov.

Mr Infantino said President Shevchenko's status as a national football icon and his vision for the future of the game would keep Ukrainian football moving onwards and upwards. Shevchenko, who was voted in unanimously as President having previously served as men's national team boss, said he and Mr Infantino had covered a range of topics during their discussion.

He also acknowledged the importance FIFA has in supporting the UAF, and - through initiatives such as the FIFA Forward programme, FIFA Football for Schools, and the FIFA Talent Development Scheme - shaping Ukrainian society and bringing the next generation of Shevchenkos to the fore. "Firstly, we talked about Ukraine, how the situation is in the country. We talked how we can not just maintain football in Ukraine, but develop it during the war. It's a big challenge for me. I think we can work on different projects. One of my key points is to help grassroots football, to develop programmes for young generations," said Mr Shevchenko, who noted women's football and digitalisation had also been on the agenda. "FIFA has a lot of programmes that we already use as a federation, but we are planning to use them more and see in which direction we can collaborate. Also, it is very important for us to have this international connection, and to work with the FIFA Foundation."