"A successful and exciting football year that featured top-class FIFA competitions is drawing to a close. To stage successful events, the whole football family worldwide needs to stand together and work hand in hand, a feat that has been achieved in 2009.

“One of the final, and most spectacular, events in the annual FIFA calendar is the FIFA World Player Gala and once again, we honoured the best male and female players, who are the key element and most important figures in our game. Football through its universality can build bridges between people and equally make a contribution to society through values such as solidarity, respect and fair play.

“FIFA is more than aware of its own obligation to demonstrate such values. In 2010, the eyes of the world will turn to South Africa and the first FIFA World Cup on the continent. Football for Hope is the cornerstone of our corporate social responsibility programme and a movement which we established four years ago. The objective is to support, advise and strengthen sustainable social and human development programmes in the areas of health, children’s rights, education, anti-discrimination and social integration. I am very proud indeed that we have put our words into action and have taken concrete steps forward, opening the first of the 20 Centres for 2010 in Khayelitsha, South Africa in early December 2009.

“The concept of an education for every child could be taken for granted in many parts of the world, but the reality sometimes is very different. The 1GOAL: Education for All campaign uses football as a platform to improve access to education and health care for children and young people all around the world. Global football stars, the football world and its governing body, FIFA, are behind 1GOAL. This FIFA World Cup is a moment for us to shine and we are determined to ensure that there is a wide-ranging legacy left following this tournament across the continent.

“Our mission is not solely to develop the game and touch the world – it is our duty to make a positive contribution to the creation of a better future.

“I wish you all a thrilling World Cup year, and I am looking forward to experiencing and sharing another memorable 12 months with you.”

Joseph S. Blatter