FIFA President hails Kyrgyz Football Union as they celebrate centenary

• Kyrgyz Football celebrates 100th anniversary • FIFA President recognises impressive progress made by football in Kyrgyz Republic • KFU’s approach to tackling Covid-19 praised as “appropriate for the modern age” FIFA President Gianni Infantino, in an address to celebrate 100 years of Kyrgyz football, has praised the Kyrgyz Football Union (KFU) for its modern approach to women's football, and tackling the Covid 19 pandemic. In a video address broadcast at the KFU's annual awards, he noted the KFU was a pioneer among the 211 Member Associations (MAs) in using FIFA to develop women's football.

Kyrgyz women's football project

"You were the first member association to implement a grassroots project using funds and resources supplied via FIFA’s Women’s Development Programme and girls in several locations across the country, including Osh and Bishkek, have benefitted from being able to taste football by taking part. That is the oxygen of our game," he said. "We are aware, too, that strong plans are in place to grow women’s football, using football to help to overcome cultural and social barriers and that is aligned with FIFA’s vision: that our sport can be the platform for positive change beyond the white lines of the football pitch." The FIFA President also praised the KFU's response to the coronavirus pandemic. "Your COVID-free bubble in the city of Kant shared our view that #HealthComesFirst as you restarted competitions with strict medical protocols and took them to homes across the Krygyz Republic by funding television and online broadcasts,” he said. “This is the sign of an approach that is appropriate for the modern age!”

The KFU joined FIFA in 1994 following the break-up of the Soviet Union. However, the first recognised match in what is now Kyrgyz Republic took place way back on March 21, 1921 between a local team and opponents from Verny, now known as Almaty, in the current Kazakhstan. A local league was established from 1934 involving teams from the capital Bishkek which at the time was known as Frunze. Both Alga Frunze and Alay Osh, from Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city, played in the Soviet league although they never quite managed to reach the top flight. The men's national team qualified for the Asian Football Championship for the first time in 2019 and progressed from their group after narrow defeats to China and South Korea and a 3-1 win over Philippines. They took the United Arab Emirates to extra-time in their round-of-16 match before losing 3-2 "I would like to say on behalf of FIFA, that you should all be very proud for the significant recent strides that you have all made," said the FIFA President. "The next 100 years will only take football in the Kyrgyz Republic from strength to strength. Through our joint efforts, you will develop the foundations of our sport and make it truly global, giving youngsters across the country the chance to dream of raising the flag at international competitions more often."