When FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Secretary-General Jerome Valcke entered the Boardroom at Old Trafford on Wednesday 11 March, they were greeted by a few familiar faces. The first person to welcome the delegation was Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill, a member of the Club Football Committee. Also present was Lord Triesman, the Chairman of the Football Association and Sir Bobby Charlton, a FIFA World Cup winner himself - and a former opponent of the FIFA President at the 1955 Blue Stars tournament.
Before the gathering settled down for a pre-match meal, Gill pointed out a new addition to the boardroom; a revised honours list. In the central section, which highlights United's Premier League, First Division championship [the forerunner to the Premier League] and UEFA Champions League successes is a new section devoted to the FIFA Club World Cup and their victory in Japan last December. It symbolises the pride that the club has taken in their historic victory.
Midway through the meal, a special guest arrived direct from the home dressing room. It was none other than Sir Alex Ferguson, who greeted the delegation warmly before posing for photographs with the FIFA President and Gill. Then it was time for the presentation. The first item that was held proudly by Blatter and Ferguson was the Manchester United shirt, complete with its new addition; the FIFA Club World Cup Champions badge.
It was an enormous honour to become the first British club to win the FIFA Club World Cup and this is a badge we will wear with great pride. I hope we are in a position to defend the trophy in Abu Dhabi in December.
United have the right to display the crest on their jerseys up until the final whistle of the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup. The badge features an image of the trophy and the text: FIFA World Champions 2008 and they now follow in the footsteps on Italian giants AC Milan who were presented with the 2007 edition of the badge last year.
Next was a larger version of the crest - and then a commemorative gold medal. "That's fantastic," beamed Ferguson. Then it was the turn of the FIFA President to receive some gifts. The first was a Manchester United home shirt, complete with ‘Blatter 1' on the back. Then Gill brought out a specially commissioned figurine symbolising friendship. It portrayed a Manchester United and Inter Milan player shaking hands with the ball between their feet.
The FIFA President was extremely grateful for the gift and expressed his heartfelt thanks, but the conviviality had to be cut short, as it was time for Ferguson to return to his duties. Before saying his goodbyes, Blatter wished him the very best of luck for the game; the first in which the FIFA Club World Cup Champions badge appeared on the United shirt. As it happened, it proved to be a successful debut, with United winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo to book a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.