Blatter visits Central Asia
Towards the end of March, Joseph S. Blatter paid official visits to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. His first port of call was Ashgabat, capital of former Soviet republic Turkmenistan, on 27 March, where he was welcomed by the President of the Football Association in Turkmenistan, Aman Yusopov. The highlight of his stay, during which the FIFA President also met Deputy Prime Minister Hydyr Sarpalyev and Minister of Sport Derya Orasov, was the inauguration of the new football association headquarters, built with the help of FIFA’s goal development programme. From there, Blatter continued his journey north to Uzbekistan, where Mirabror Usmanov, the President of the Football Uzbekistan Association, was waiting to welcome the FIFA delegation, which included Mohamed bin Hammam, President of the Asian Football Association (AFC) and FIFA Executive Committee member, in the capital, Tashkent. On 29 March, Blatter inaugurated the new association headquarters and surrounding buildings with Minister of Sport Rustam Kurbanov at his side. Later on, Blatter, bin Hammam and Usmanov met head of state Islom Abdug’aniyevich, who presented the FIFA President with the Dustlik order of friendship.
The third and penultimate stage in the journey around Central Asia was Tajikistan. Sukhrob Kosimov, the President of the Tajikistan Football Federation, greeted the world governing body’s delegation upon arrival in the capital, Dushanbe, on 30 March. Together, Blatter and bin Hammam inaugurated an artificial turf pitch in the small town of Nurik situated in the Pamir mountains. An official reception with head of state Emomali Rahmonov was awaiting them upon their return to Dushanbe.
From there, the FIFA delegation continued its journey northwards to Kyrgyzstan, where Blatter was awarded the Danaker order during an audience with head of state Kurmanbek Bakiyev. The FIFA President rounded off his trip by dropping in on the headquarters of the Football Federation of Kyrgyz Republic.