FFF MOVES TO NEW HEADQUARTERS
The life long residents on Boulevard de Grenelle in Paris could not remember ever having seen anything like it. Small wonder as on 11 January 2007 the French football federation (FFF) set up shop on no.87 and, to celebrate the grand opening, stars and dignitaries of the European game descended on the new headquarters in Paris 15th arrondissement. After forty years at their old home on Avenue d’Iena, the FFF had decided it was time to move on.
The evening kicked of with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by France’s Minister for Youth, Sporta and Associations, Jean-Francois Lamour. At about 18.30h, the Minister, a former Olympic fencing champion, bade the guests to take a look inside the art noveau building constructed way back in the 1940s. Leading the cortege were the FFF’s new head and President, Jean-Pierre Escallettes, along with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, UEFA President Lennart Johanson and FFF Vice-President Michel Platini.
Inside the brand new auditorium, the procession was greeted by a potent symbol – members of the FFF’s Federal Council, presidents of the local leagues, leaders of regional associations and representatives of 41 of UEFA’s 51 other member associations were all waiting to welcome them. This symbol of France’s standing in the European game was not lost on FFF President Escalettes, who proudly announced in his welcome address: “It’s a privilege for the whole of France to see you all here. It’s the best present you could ever have given us and we are very moved by it.” Jean-Pierre Escalettes then reminded everyone of the work still to be accomplished in football around the world, and especially in France: “The challenges that lie ahead concern primarily the development of the social and the cultural aspects of football, especially with regard to overcoming violence and promoting for others, and above all referees.”
PRAISE FROM BLATTER
“I feel very privileged this evening,” commented FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. “I would like to express my sincerest thanks and compliments to France for what it has done, and is continuing to do, for football. Thank you in particular for having been our birthplace by hosting the inauguration of FIFA in 1904 and for giving us the presidencies of Robert Guerin from 1904 to 1906 and, of course, Jules Rimet from 1921 to 1954 – the creator of the FIFA World Cup TM. Today it stands as the number one event in world sport.”
After the inaugural ceremony, the assembled guests split up into small groups to explore the state-of-the-art facilities and offices, spread over 8,700m2.
All the signs point to the fact that Chile’s new female President since March 2006, Michelle Bachelet, is an avid football fan. In the Chilean capital, Santiago, she recently displayed sharp shooting skills when she nonchalantly fired the ball into the net in front of a crowd of inquisitive spectators. Chile’s first lady President also declared her willingness to assume the position of honorary chairman of the local organizing committee of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Chile 2008. Furthermore, she welcomed Harold Mayne-Nicholls to a brief visit to the presidential palace in January 2006 to wish him well in his new position as the President of the Chilean football association. Former journalist and writer Mayne-Nicholls was previously head of the FIFA development office in Asuncion, Paraguay, for several years.