Lessons learned in Ecuador
© FIFA.com

Ecuador was pleased to host its second Com-Unity course in the space of four years in Quito recently, with a special focus being placed on football's relationship with the media. Representing FIFA were Dr. Jorge Gullen (a medical representative), Ernesto Fillipi (a referee instructor), former Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago coach Francisco Maturana (representing the FIFA Technical Study Group) and Fernando Ruiz from FIFA TV.

Before the official opening of the event, a press conference was held in which all the guests representing FIFA were questioned by the media. A video address from Joseph S. Blatter got the seminar underway, before Ecuador's vice-president Lenin Moreno echoed the FIFA President's words by highlighting how the sport can unite ‘people from all levels and corners of society.' The first person on the podium was Com-Unity Communications Instructor, Jorge Barraza, who spoke about his experiences as a journalist, before current player Carlos Hidalgo gave a player's point of view on the media's thirst for information. Ecuador's national coach Sixto Vizuete also vowed to improve opportunities after hearing the media describe their problems before, during and after recent FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers.

The second day saw Ecuador's Sports Minister, Sandra Vela, offer an informative presentation regarding footballing statistics and the creation of a new women's league, before Filippi spoke about the recent changes on the wording of some of the Laws of the Game and the offside rule. Dr. Guillen gave an insight into Sports Medicine and then a series of presentations took place. The first was from UNICEF, who presented referees in Ecuador with the organisations logo, which will be worn on their shorts from next season.

The third day was the main event, as presentations by Maturana, Benito Floro (the ex-Real Madrid coach) and Vizuete was an experience which will be remembered by those involved for a long time. A round table for an open debate was set up and the day ended with another session of question and answers. "The diverse origins of the presenters, the scope of the topics, plus the versatility and experience of everybody involved gave the seminar depth, coherence and credibility," said Com Unity Communications Instructor, Les Dickens. "Without doubt, most people came away from the event with a feeling of achievement and the feeling of being part of something very special."

The President of Ecuador's FA, Luis Chiriboga Acosta, agreed with Dickens' sentiments. "The exclusively positive comments from the 165 delegates were the best indication of the usefulness of this Com-Unity Seminar," he said. "The experience of the 2005 event have been re-evaluated and re-affirmed, which leads me to conclude that Mr. Blatter's belief is being realised: football is not only a sport, it goes beyond that - and working as a team is very important both on and off the pitch.

"I am sure that, once again, this seminar with be a sign of progress. But more importantly, it will confirm the harmonious relationship which exists between football, the most beautiful sport in the world, and the wider community."