Many issues are at stake in regard to the future of FIFA, to electing the President for the next term, hosting next World Cups, legal issues, rebuilding credibility to this international organization.
These issues make headlines around the globe. I would like to share with you a few important facts and reflections from the time that I used to be more involved in following this popular sport.
Soccer is the most popular sport around the globe.
In the United States American football, hockey, basketball, baseball are the most popular sports. These disciplines attract millions of fans.
Sepp Blatter, the current FIFA President is from Switzerland. He is 79. years old. He has been FIFA President since 1998.
I attended several meetings with Mr. Sepp Blatter in April 2002, touring the soccer exhibit in Warsaw, attending a press-conference with him. It was before the FIFA Congress in 2002 and a few weeks before the World Cup in Korea and Japan.
Back then, I asked Mr. Blatter about his plan for the second part of his game? I meant his platform for the second term as the FIFA President.
Mr. Blatter responded that his main objective was to popularize soccer around the world, to organize World Cups in different parts of the world, to invite players from different countries to play in Europe and on other continents.
We have seen that soccer has become the most popular sport in the world, especially during last two decades.
The World Cups were organized in different countries and on different continents: 2002- in Korea and Japan, Asia; 2006 – in Germany, Europe; 2010 – South Africa; 2014 – Brazil, South America.
Mr. Blatter motto “football for all, all for football” philosophy, influenced a new FIFA motto that came into being in 2007: “For the Game. For the World.”, as it stated of FIFA website.
Players from different countries in the North and the South America; from Asia and Africa have been playing in Europe and Asia. There are many exchanges between clubs, players. The United States teams have attracted number of players from Europe and from the South America.
There have been many exchanges of soccer coaches around the globe as well.
The future of hosting the World Cups in 2018 and in 2022 have been intensely discussed and the previous about country hosts are challenged.
Soccer attracts billions of fans around the world, unprecedented media coverage. This popular sport makes huge impacts on the economy of many countries. Billions dollars are involved. Potential for fraud is huge.
Sepp Blatter vowed during last few days to restore trust in FIFA and „find a way to fix things”. He opened the FIFA Congress acknowledging challenging times for FIFA and his leadership.
Sepp Blatter is seeking a fifth term when he takes on Prince Ali bin al-Hussein in Friday’s election. We do not know the final results yet. The outcomes from the FIFA Congress will be very interesting to learn.
Soccer, as the most popular sport on a global scale will still attract millions, practically billions of fans around the world in coming years. I hope that the credibility will be restored and that this popular sport will have unifying power.
@ Andrew (Andrzej) Mikolajczyk
Photo: Sepp Blatter, FIFA President, during the tour of a soccer exhibit in Warsaw, Poland in 2002. I was lucky to attend this historical event. Thank you to organizers.
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Ps. In Chicago, we support Chicago Blackhawks during the next game. This is a great international team that make hockey fans excited.