Around 200 guests were welcomed by FIFA President Joseph S.
Blatter to the traditional FIFA New Year Apero on Wednesday 9
January 2008. The FIFA President greeted many friends at the Home
of FIFA, including prominent guests from the local sports, politics
and business worlds, as well as the cultural scene. Guest of Honour
at this year's Apero was Swiss National Team Coach Jakob
'Kobi' Kuhn, who joined the FIFA President and FIFA Exco
Member Franz Beckenbauer on stage.
This illustrious football trio kept the guests amused with tales of the beautiful game, led by FIFA's interim Director of Communications Andreas Herren. The main subject of their discussion inevitably became UEFA EURO 2008, which will take place this summer in Switzerland and Austria and involve Kuhn's team as co-hosts. "I'm happy that Zurich is a venue for the European Championships and I am sure that we will see some great games here in our city, with France, Italy and Romania all taking part. Although I'm a bit sad, that Switzerland won't play here," admitted the President. "But I think that Switzerland can reach the semi-finals, and from that point on anything is possible."
Beckenbauer joined the debate, admitting that: "Although my predictions usually never come true, I consider Germany one of the favourites, with a young and well developed team." Concerning FIFA, he said: "It has been a good start of the year for FIFA as the President is in a very good mood. If this will be the same at the end of the year, it will have been a very good year."
In an interview with Georg Heitz of the FIFA Communication Division, Kobi Kuhn said that his team will be hoping to go far in the European finals, and that he would do everything possible to take them to the final. "On the 29th of June, I would like to answer the question of how I saw the goal for my team," Kuhn said with a smile.
The coach was given a small replica FIFA World Cup™ trophy and a
honorary medal as a memento of Germany 2006. "He did fantastic
things in 2006, reaching the round of 16 with the Swiss team,"
said Blatter, before adding, "but If he only have had better
President Blatter and FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke then handed over a check of 50,000 Swiss francs to Zurich Councillor Gerold Lauber for the city's sports holiday camp for young people in Fiesch (Canton of Valais).
Finally, the FIFA President read aloud 'A poem of time' to his guests, finishing with the words: "I wish you time - time to live". After the official ceremony, the guests enjoyed the crisp January afternoon at the Home of FIFA with a delicious lunch buffet, mingling with friends and colleagues.