On Monday 22 September the President of Uzbekistan FA, Mirabror Usmanov, paid a visit to the Home of FIFA in Zurich and met with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. He informed FIFA about the latest developments in Uzbek football, including the construction of the new national stadium and the inauguration of the recently-formed professional football league. FIFA.com took the opportunity to speak to the Uzbekistan FA President during his visit to Zurich.
FIFA.com: Mr Usmanov, what brings you to Zurich?
President Usmanov: We had a meeting with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter to inform him of the latest footballing developments taking place in Uzbekistan. The government is making a serious effort to promote football back home especially at youth level by putting a good sporting infrastructure into place. 14 million USD has been spent in the last two years to not only build the new national stadium but also to invest in youth academies. At present we currently have twelve such academies located right across the country. I informed the FIFA President about the completion of the new national stadium and the ongoing construction of the new sports complex ‘Tashkent Football Park' which is due to be completed in October 2009. All these steps are being made to promote football in the country and to ensure that a high-standard infrastructure is in place. A 16-club professional league was inaugurated in July and we trust that each club will also run its affairs professionally.
Uzbekistan narrowly missed out on a place at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, but after defeats to Qatar and Australia in the qualifiers for South Africa 2010 they are currently occupying bottom spot in the table. How do you see the chances of qualifying?
I've been asked this question a lot lately. Despite losing those two games I think we can still manage to qualify. That said, it is not our primary goal at the moment to qualify for a World Cup tournament and realistically we're probably not in a position to do so right now.
When do you think Uzbekistan will be in such a position?
Given all the developments currently taking place in our country, we might be a force to be reckoned with in footballing terms in four or five years' time.