FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter embarked on a short trip to Argentina to open Goal Project facilities at a complex run by the Argentinian Football Association, and watch the exciting denouement of the 2011 Copa America.
Arriving at Ezeiza International Airport on Saturday, Blatter then made his way to the city of La Plata, the capital of the province of Buenos Aires, where he attended the match for third place between Peru and Venezuela. After being introduced to the players before the start of the game, the president of world football’s governing body looked on from the stands as the Peruvians posted a comprehensive 4-1 win to finish third in the competition for the seventh time.
The following morning Blatter visited the AFA complex in Ezeiza. In the company of the Senior Vice-President of FIFA and AFA President Julio Grondona, FIFA vice-president Angel Maria Villar Llona, and CONMEBOL President and member of the FIFA Executive Committee Dr Nicolas Leoz, Blatter opened two construction projects key to the development of football in the country and South America as a whole.
The first of them was a new futsal complex complete with offices, as well as floodlights for the beach soccer pitch. These facilities form part of the second and third FIFA Goal Projects undertaken in Argentina.
Blatter then inaugurated an artificial football pitch installed thanks to the development project Win in CONMEBOL with CONMEBOL. This initiative, which FIFA has embarked on jointly with South America’s football confederation, will provide each of its ten member associations with a new artificial pitch.
“It’s amazing what has been acheived at this centre,” commented Blatter. “The AFA has quietly gone about its work and it has borne fruit. This is an important step forward for Argentinian football.”
Taking his turn to speak, Grondona said: “This is a very happy day and I am filled with satisfaction, not least at being able to show the result of something we have all worked towards. I believe we have fulfilled our duty as an organisation and that we have shown that the money we receive is invested in football. In sharing its revenue with all its member associations FIFA provides an example of solidarity.”
Uruguay the champions
In the evening the dignitaries made the journey to the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires to watch the final of the 2011 Copa America between Uruguay and Paraguay.
“CONMEBOL runs the world’s oldest tournament for national teams, and we are honoured to be here to congratulate South American football on the fact that there are no longer any differences between its ten teams,” said Blatter. “As we have seen for ourselves, all of them have been very competitive.”
Leoz had warm words for the organisers: “This Copa America will go down in history for the high standards it has reached in every area. We are very satisfied with the work Argentina has done with all the cities that have taken part.”
After greeting both squads prior to the kick-off, Blatter watched from the stands as Uruguay won the competition for a record 15th time with an emphatic 3-0 victory. “The final confirmed the strengths of Uruguay, who were deserved winners and showed that their fourth place in South Africa was no fluke,” the FIFA President said later.
Blatter then took part in the award ceremony with Leoz and Grondona, a suitably high point on which to end a trip that combined official duties with football, his great passion.