More Than Ever
The perception of time is a very subjective feeling. Players who are chasing the ball, for instance, in an attempt to level the score feel that time is racing by. On the other hand, anyone trying to hang on to the lead will perceive each second as eternity.
As for me, when I reflect on the past ten years since my election in Paris, I often feel that time has flown by. Not because I am trying to catch up, but because there is still so much to do.
Two superb FIFA World Cups™ in Korea/ Japan and Germany, several other world cham¬pionships and numerous other events are all behind us and, with South Africa 2010, the first FIFA World Cup™ on African soil is prac¬tically on our doorstep.
I can well remember the inauguration of the first Goal project — an artificial turf pitch for the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Liberia — as if it were yesterday. Since then, 300 projects have been completed, helping to strengthen the structures of the associations and render them more professional. And now players are better protected because the Laws have been adapted, medical treatment has been improved, preventive programmes have been set up and doping is being combated. Furthermore, the international transfer system has been reformed to the extent that players and clubs can negotiate as equal partners, using unambiguous legal instruments, and can also resort to bodies well equipped to deal with any disputes.
The Task Force “For the Good of the Game” enabled FIFA to tackle far-reaching issues affecting finance, politics and competition organisation and to take vigorous action. Examples of this were the early warning system to combat illegal betting, and action to safeguard the principle of club teams’ promotion and relegation, which was ratified by the Congress in Sydney.
Most importantly, over the past ten years, FIFA has constantly renewed itself and expanded its mission. Whereas initially the focus was on promoting football and organising competitions, our federation now makes a valuable contribution to society by nurturing development through the medium of football. We are in a position to do this because we learnr our lessons from the difficulties encountered more than ever in 2001 and 2002 and have since grown in strengrh in every direction – including financially.
The wheel of time, however, never stops turning, regardless of how we perceive it subjectively. Our sport must be able to survive in an increasingly dynamic environment. There are numerous interest groups and power brokers trying to chip away at the structures and threatening to undermine the foundations of the football pyramid. That is why FIFA is needed more than ever — to maintain a balance between the base and the apex, between national teams and clubs and between rich and poor. A FIFA that is committed to solidarity and universality. A FIFA that promotes football worldwide while governing and protecting it for the benefit of everyone involved. For the Game. For the World.