A speech by The Duke of Cambridge to the UEFA Congress


What unites us all as 53 different nations is our love of a game that crosses boundaries.

Monsieur President, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is my great pleasure as President of The English Football Association to welcome you formally to London for this, the 37th Ordinary UEFA Congress.

It is a great honour for us, the English FA, to host not just this prestigious Congress, but of course - the real excitement - tomorrow's Champions League Final.  My money is on Bayern Munich and two-nil.  To host these events during our 150th anniversary year is truly special.

The rules of association football were drafted 150 years ago in a London "pub" very close to where we meet today.  As you know, we English have a love affair with both football and our pubs, so it's no surprise that one helped create the other.  Those association football rules have spawned a game loved by the world, and it is wonderful that so many nations can be here together to celebrate its progress.

Of course, in London, we were fortunate recently to experience the amazingly positive impact that elite sport can have.  London 2012 was an Olympics with legacy at its heart - it set out to inspire a generation through the excellence of its competition.  I am delighted to see that UEFA are determined along the same path.  The investment by you in community facilities here in London, and the creation of a fans zone within the Olympic Park that will bring the excitement of the Final to the wider public, demonstrate a commitment to deliver a lasting legacy for London from this weekend's event.

Part of that legacy should be about encouraging people to play the game we all love.  There are 53 nations represented here in the room today, and I know that all of you - like our own FA - work tirelessly to encourage as many people as possible to play and enjoy football.  Football can transform boys' and girls' lives, instilling fitness, team discipline, aspiration and fairness.  Events like tomorrow's match are hugely important because they inspire through their excellence.  But what really counts is the work you all do at a grassroots level - investing in facilities; training coaches; and addressing discrimination to make the game open to everyone.  I know some of these issues are on your agenda today, and I welcome UEFA's determination to continue to improve European football for all.

Ultimately you are a unique and powerful body.  You lead the game across our continent.  Your decisions touch the lives of millions - this is a big responsibility, and I know you exercise it with care.  The game has developed immeasurably in the last 150 years, thanks to the diligence of those who have come before you; and I know that you will continue to uphold the traditions of the game whilst ensuring it adapts and evolves to our ever-changing world.

This week, London and English football feel very much at the heart of European football.  We are so very proud of this.  What unites us all as 53 different nations is our love of a game that crosses boundaries.  Wherever each one of us has come from to be here today, we are all first and foremost fans - and it is in the spirit of one football fan to another that I welcome you to London.

President Platini and all your Executive Committee, I hope this Congress is a great success and that tomorrow's final is a wonderful occasion.  Thank you.