Home of FIFA impresses young and old
On 29 May 2007, FIFA marked the inauguration of its Home of FIFA headquarters with festivities in the presence of 1,300 association delegates and many invited guests from the worlds of sport, culture, politics and business.
“The Home of FIFA is your home – come on in,” said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter to the representatives of FIFA’s member associations during his welcome address. “It has been built on a foundation stone that contains earth from your home countries, so it is actually on your ground. We couldn’t have wished for more solid foundations.”
The Home of FIFA, a resplendent building that was the brainchild of Swiss architect Tilla Theus, is an administrative, training, conference, logistics and sports centre rolled into one. It is 134 metres long and 41 metres wide but stands just 12 metres high, and as such; it blends perfectly into its landscaped surroundings with three storeys above ground and a further five below. In other words, two-thirds of FIFA headquarters, which cost CHF 240 million, are below ground level.
Samuel Schmid, the Swiss Minister of Defence and Sport, conveyed Switzerland’s best wishes on behalf of the federal government. “Switzerland is happy and proud to say that world’s biggest sports federation is based here. We do all we can to make Switzerland a friendly and safe host country.” Schmid then presented a gift on an embroidered Swiss flag as a symbol of the country’s links with FIFA.
Elmar Ledergerber, the Mayor of Zurich, where FIFA has been based at various locations since 1932, praised the city’s excellent and close working relationship with world football’s governing body. “FIFA and Zurich are, quite simply, a dream team.”
Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the President of the Chilean football association, spoke on behalf of FIFA’s members when he praised the governing body’s work of the good of the associations. David Collins, the General Secretary of the Football Association of Wales, delivered an ecumenical message in which he gave thanks for the fact that there had been no accidents during construction work on the Home of FIFA.
Neither persistent rain nor the temperatures that had fallen considerably overnight were able to dampen the enthusiasm of FIFA’s guests or the boys and girls representing 12 different countries in two separate U-14 tournaments. ”Football is an all-weather sport. Rain is part and parcel of that, and in many countries, rain is even a godsend,” said the FIFA President philosophically.
The boys’ tournament was won by South Africa after a thrilling and attractive final against Bolivia, with Bermuda, Bahrain, San Marino and Papua New Guinea completing the field. In the girls’ event, it was another team from Confederation of African Football (CAF) that came out on top with Ghana overcoming Costa Rica in the final. Third place was claimed by Chile, followed by Thailand, Tahiti and Switzerland. Both tournaments were ultimately decided in a penalty shoot-out.
“Youngsters are the future of our sport, so it is quite fitting that these tournaments are taking place on the day we are opening the doors to FIFA’s new headquarters to the world,” said Blatter. “I am delighted that FIFA has been able to organize such an important competition, and I have no doubt whatsoever that it was a quite unforgettable experience for these boys and girls.”