On Thursday 13 November 2008, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was awarded the Decoration for Merit, Grand Silver Class, for services to the Republic of Austria. Dr Johannes Kyrle, Secretary General of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, accompanied by General Consul Dr Petra Schneebauer, brought the medal to the Home of FIFA in Zurich on behalf of Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer.
Kyrle paid special tribute in a speech to the incredible humanitarian commitment of the FIFA President to SOS Children's Villages, and also to the excellent cooperation between FIFA and the Republic of Austria during UEFA EURO 2008. "You have performed many services to sport in Austria," said Kyrle. "We know how close you are to all of the national associations in your professional capacity, and Austria particularly benefited from your commitment to the European Championships. The same is also true for SOS Children's Villages, which you have been supporting above and beyond the call of duty since 1994."
"This is a great honour for me," said the President of world football's governing body, who was delighted to receive the award. "I am both moved and proud to be given this honour. Switzerland and Austria have shown what can be achieved when you work together. The partnership between the countries is a wonderful thing. Supporting SOS Children's villages is a cause that has long been dear to me. Football is a sport that belongs to everyone so it should help everyone."