24th April 2008

Berti Vogts supports Baku’s Bid for Olympic Games

After ten days in Azerbaijan the former German Head Coach praises his new “second home” and shows great enthusiasm about this sport-loving nation.

Leading members of Baku’s 2016 Bidding Committee met with Berti Vogts and interviewed the world champion of 1974.

Q: Mr Vogts, you have been in Baku for almost 10 days now and have visited several sports events. What is your first impression?

B. Vogts: It’s amazing how open-minded the people are. Their readiness to welcome you without any inhibitions is overwhelming and a beautiful new experience.
The Azerbaijan Football Federation (AFFA) consists of highly professional, young and ambitious people who are willing to invest in the future of football and youth development.
One of the first events I was invited to was a university football tournament. 10,000 people watched this competition and cheered for their teams. We experienced live music, fun and good football at the same time!
I believe this country has great potential. It is a country with visions and dreams. The bid for Olympic 2016 is a sign to the world.

Q: You mentioned that Azerbaijan’s National Football team is facing a tough qualification group for the FIFA World Cup 2010. How important are good results against Russia or Germany for encouraging the youth?

B. Vogts: I have visited a few league matches and seen many young talented players. Of course, nobody can expect miracles, but my task is not to win the next match. My duties go far beyond short-term victories. Everybody loves to win, but first we have to build up structures for new training methods, similar to Germany or England. We have to encourage children to start earlier with football, already at school. Good results are always helpful because young kids love to admire heroes, and in football many things can happen.
Azerbaijan has already played a tie against Portugal: why not against the German team?

Q: The AFA and other sports authorities such as the National Olympic Committee are investing in good coaches. They want to build structures for sport and youth development and invest in new sports facilities. Do you see any priorities?

B. Vogts: Firstly, Football urgently needs more training sites and new stadiums. Secondly, when I was in Nigeria, I was surprised that many players could not swim. Nobody uses the pool at the gymnasium at my hotel here in Baku. I’m afraid kids are also not learning to swim in Azerbaijan. Therefore it is important to build facilities not only for big events, but also for training purposes. Thirdly, The authorities have to recognize that sports development starts quite early at school. The teachers need support in coaching. It goes hand-in-hand with a need for more professional training courses to promote know-how of the latest developments in training. We all talk about the future – our kids are the future.

Q: Bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games seems like a vision and might not be successful in the first attempt. Do you think bidding for major events could have a positive impact?

B. Vogts: Yes, for sure. For so many people it may be the first time they hear or read something about Azerbaijan. It is a very positive context. Even if it is too optimistic to believe a country can win an Olympic bid the first time, the world media is now listing Baku next to Rio, Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago. And the plans for sports venues are needed anyway. This will be a solid foundation for future bids. Baku will already have gained experience and can display what it has achieved.

Thank you.