Northern Ireland

Redeveloped national football stadium opens at Windsor Park

Marco van Basten, Arlene Foster, Fifa president Gianni Infantino, Martin McGuinness and IFA president David Martin attend the official opening of the new stadium at Windsor Park ahead of the Northern Ireland match Image copyright Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Image caption Marco van Basten, Arlene Foster, Fifa president Gianni Infantino, Martin McGuinness and IFA president David Martin attend the official opening of the new stadium at Windsor Park ahead of the Northern Ireland match

The first and deputy first ministers joined FIFA officials for the opening of the redeveloped national football stadium at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness were amongst fans at the Northern Ireland v San Marino FIFA World Cup qualifying match on Saturday evening.

The IFA received £28.75m from the Northern Ireland Executive towards the stadium redevelopment.

The venue now has a seating capacity of 18,500.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino unveiled a plaque to mark its opening.

'First Class'

Speaking before the match, First Minister Arlene Foster described the transformation as "remarkable".

"Northern Ireland, along with first class fans, now has a truly first class venue as its home of football," said Mrs Foster.

Image copyright Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Image caption Fifa president Gianni Infantino unveils a plaque to mark the opening of the new stadium

"There is no doubt that the Euro 2016 finals were transformative for Northern Ireland football and this wonderful new facility is reflective of our pride and ambition to take [the team] to the next level."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "In France this summer, Michael O'Neill and his team proved they were a class act both on and off the pitch and I'm delighted they now have a world class stadium to match.

'Breaking down barriers'

"Sport has the ability to break down barriers on and off the pitch and the IFA deserves great credit for its tireless efforts to rid sport of sectarianism, racism and homophobia. Their work goes beyond the gates of Windsor Park and ripples out into wider society building friendships and the community."

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