The coordinated international match calendar applies to clubs, national teams and players, but for FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, the Centennial year has brought a number of appointments that would not fit on any calendar. His schedule in September is particularly busy, with meetings throughout the week as well as on Saturdays and Sundays.
On 9 September, he was in Vaduz to join a party of guests that included UEFA Treasurer Dr. Mathieu Sprengers at the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Liechtenstein football association. While in the principality, the President also held discussions with Otmar Hasler, Liechtenstein's Prime Minister, and visited the Liechtenstein Museum of Art. With an exhibition of Andy Warhol's latter-day paintings on display, the museum was a stunning setting for a small media conference together with Liechtenstein FA President Reinhard Walser.
The following weekend, Blatter was on the move once again, visiting Preston in northwest England to call in on the National Football Museum, which also houses the FIFA Museum Collection. The museum can be found in Preston North End's Deepdale stadium, the oldest venue in England still playing host to league football, with more than 100,000 fans flocking through Deepdale's turnstiles each year. To mark FIFA's 100th anniversary, the exhibitions at the National Football Museum currently feature an in-depth look at the history of world football's governing body. During a small ceremony, the FIFA President was inaugurated into the Hall of Fame in recognition of his services to the game. Blatter described the moment as a great honour, especially as he was joining some wonderful footballers in the Hall of Fame, and he joked that he should be able to "sit on the bench at least."
|Blatter in the Museum in Preston|
The next day, the FIFA President was in London for another of his traditional media roundtable conversations with around a dozen journalists. Topics touched upon included the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa, the meeting of the FIFA Strategic Studies Committee in October, the FIFA Club World Championship and other football issues currently in the spotlight.
But the culmination and highlight of the President's sojourn in the motherland of football came the very next day, Monday, 13 September, with lunch in the House of Lords. Accompanied by UEFA President Lennart Johansson and David Will, Blatter accepted Lord Faulkner's invitation to dine in the British Upper House, where the host and more than twelve of his peers listened to a presentation on the Football Association from chairman Geoff Thompson before debating a number of football issues with Blatter, Johansson and Will.
The coordinated international calendar only has a relatively small part to play in the President's schedule, and as such, upon his return from England, Blatter's hectic schedule showed no sign of letting up. Between Tuesday, 14 September and Sunday, 19 September, Blatter will visit no fewer than five countries in Central Asia, with his travels taking him to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. But he will soon be back in Zurich, just in time for a week of meetings with numerous FIFA committees.