Today in Muscat, Oman, the FIFA President, who was attending the semi-final matches of the 19th Gulf Cup of Nations, announced in a press conference that Arabic will become the fifth language of FIFA's Official Website, FIFA.com. The new version will be launched shortly before the start of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. The Arabic version of FIFA.com will be presented by ART (Arab Radio & Television), one of FIFA's long-term Broadcast Partners.
FIFA.com is already available in the four official languages of world football's governing body: English, French, Spanish and German, but the move to include Arabic reflects the fact that it is not only the fastest-growing language on the internet (seeing a rise of 2,063.7 per cent between 2000 and 2008), but also that three FIFA competitions are taking part in the Arabic-speaking world during 2009.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup (Egypt), the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup (both in the United Arab Emirates) are all keenly anticipated events in the football calendar and, with Egypt and Iraq qualifying for the forthcoming edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, the desire for football information among the globe's 350 million Arabic speakers is set to be significant.
"FIFA is pleased to be providing a service for the Arabic-speaking world," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. "They are passionate about their football and we are very much looking forward to the events in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates this year. I am confident that the Arabic channel of FIFA.com will prove to be extremely popular."
The new version is set to offer a full service for its users, with all of FIFA.com's current features translated into Arabic. As well as reading the latest news, interviews and features on the site, people can also sign-up to the FIFA.com Club, a service which allows football fans from all over the world to communicate with each other, play games and also comment on the website's articles.
There will also be exclusive content from FIFA.com's Arabic editors, as well as news feeds which will ensure that the website offers comprehensive coverage of local and world football, 365 days a year.