We are not always overwhelmed by the coverage of FIFA in the world's press. All too often, the reports forget the huge and at times pioneering projects FIFA carries out on behalf of football and the world. The first international match to be played in the autonomous Palestinian territories, which took place in Al-Ram near Ramallah at the end of October, provided a striking example of these. The match was a historic first for Palestine, a FIFA member since 1998, bringing to an end as it did the Palestinian representative team's long wait to play a home match in their own stadium.
The complete refurbishment of the stadium was funded by FIFA, donations from France, the King of Saudi Arabia, the Olympic Council of Asia and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with additional costs being covered by the Palestinian Football Association.
It fills me with pride that FIFA played such a major part in this "football development" project, which emphatically underlines the success of the projects within our Goal Programme. Moreover, the project illustrates one of FIFA's key activities - development work on behalf of football in the 208 member associations around the world.
We are approaching the end of another year. People in Europe are preparing for winter and where possible bringing their work to a close. We are doing likewise, although there remain a few key dates in our calendar. None more so than the FIFA Club World Cup, which will be played once again this year in December. This competition will be the final highlight of a very successful footballing year for FIFA.
Next year, this magazine will be replaced by a new publication which will focus more on FIFA’s activities. Therefore, let me take this opportunity to thank you, dear readers, for your loyalty.
I wish you an enjoyable and prosperous end to the year and bid you farewell until 2009.
For the Game. For the World.