Subjects on the agenda for discussion at FIFA’s headquarters included Turkish football, the national team’s hopes of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, and Turkey’s preparations for hosting the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013.
Yildirim Demiroren: It was a courtesy visit, the first I have paid to FIFA since being elected in February. We discussed world football and, of course, Turkish football, as well as everything we have done in the past and will do in the future. It was a fruitful discussion. We also discussed the commitment of everyone involved in football – fans, administrations, referees and players alike – to harmonise football in collaboration with the Association, FIFA and UEFA. We also shared many anecdotes. President Blatter has great knowledge of Turkish football, and we spoke about Turkish-Swiss players such as the Yakin brothers, Kubilay Turkyilmaz, Eren Derdiyok and others.
We now have a good team: a very ‘international,’ multicultural team whose quality is getting better and better.
You were recently elected President of the Turkish FA after 15 years in administration. What is your main objective as President?
First of all to build a good relationship between our association and FIFA and UEFA, as we are the sixth-largest association in Europe and the 15th largest in the world, in financial terms and in terms of the number of professional and amateur footballers. However, a lack of fair play, and discrimination in whichever form it takes, are the main problems facing football in our country. We are trying to combine our efforts not only to combat these problems, but also to integrate Turkey and the Turkish people with the world through football.
We are already at a very advanced stage. As you know, we were candidates to host the UEFA EURO 2020, so all the infrastructures and stadiums are ready for this ‘mini’ World Cup, and Turkey is ready to welcome the fans. A FIFA delegation will visit Turkey soon to inspect the facilities and stadiums. The government is behind us. We are a football country, and we are always delighted to discover upcoming players and watch others who are already stars.
Your Brazil 2014 qualifiers start in September. Exactly ten years ago, Turkey were in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup. Since then, things have been more difficult for the national team. What are your expectations?
We have already made a good start in the friendlies. We have had to deal with a transition between generations. We had some big stars, like Hakan Sukur, who was a great striker and someone who had a lot of influence on the national team. But all the stars from that generation have now retired and are becoming coaches. We are on the right track now, and we are trying to discover young Turkish players all around the world. We now have a good team: a very ‘international,’ multicultural team whose quality is getting better and better. We also have a new coach who is young, calm and composed, and a team where everyone plays for each other.