Azerbaijan is known around the world for its ancient history, culture and traditions. I am proud that it is also increasingly recognised for its commitment to sporting excellence. In recent years, Azerbaijan has successfully hosted some of the most prestigious international sporting events: the 2015 European Games, the 2019 UEFA Europa League final, three F1 Grand Prix races, and next year will host first round and quarter final matches of the 2020 UEFA European Championships.

For any country, hosting the world’s greatest athletes leaves a remarkable legacy. It promotes cities, boosts tourism and leads to increased investment in sport at the community level. Most importantly, through example it inspires individuals of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to take part in the sports they love.

My passion for sport stems from my experiences as president of Gabala FC football club from 2005 to 2019. My colleagues and I transformed a fledgling squad into the first Azerbaijani football team to have success at European level. We worked tirelessly to improve every aspect of the club, developing new infrastructure, professionalising the staff and players, and fostering a new generation of supporters. Part of our vision for the club was also to invest in young talent and boost participation in sport across the board.

Read my latest article for Emerging Europe.