A World First At The Sepp Blatter Tournament
The eleventh Sepp Blatter Football Tournament took place in Ulrichen on 31 August. As in previous years, football served only as a backdrop for a relaxed get-together between the FIFA President and friends and dignitaries from the international football scene. Blatter welcomed guests to Ulrichen, the village with a population of 240 where his family has its roots, with white wine and the Swiss cheese speciality raclette – the perfect way to build their strength for the football tournament later in the day. In addition to UEFA President Michel Platini and Franz Eeckenbauer, who are tournament regulars, a newcomer this year was Ottmar Hitzfeld, the new coach of the Swiss national team. The former Bayern Munich coach was admitted to the illustrious group of tournament participants and on arrival Blatter himself welcomed him with a plate of raclette. “I was involved in the promotion of tourism to the Valais region for many years, so if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to serve raclette,” said the FIFA President as he filled the plate of his long-time friend, “We met back in 1972 when Ottmar was playing for West Germany at the Olympics.”
Blatter believes his German friend’s appointment as coach of the national team is a real coup for Switzerland. “He brings with him a magnificent record. He lives only a few kilometres from the border and is close to Switzerland not only in terms of geography. The fact that he understands the many different facets of our country is a tremendous advantage,” said the tournament host, who was also celebrating his tenth anniversary as head of FIFA. The celebrations were hosted at a stadium that now bears his name. “This is a world first — it is the first time a FIFA president has ever had his own stadium,” joked Blatter after the new pitch had been officially blessed by the village priest. And, of course, let us not forget that some football was played, too. The FIFA Team were victorious, comfortably beating Team 2000 8-2.