The President of the Omani Football Association (OFA), Sayyid Khalid Hamad Hamoud Al-Busaidi, visited FIFA headquarters on Wednesday to meet with President Joseph S. Blatter. Voted to the head of the OFA on 31 August 2007, the businessman and former President of Fanja Sports Club has already overseen huge strides on the sporting front, with Oman winning the Gulf Cup for the first time in their history on 17 January. It was an unexpected success for a country that, despite playing on home soil, had become used to falling short in previous years. President Al-Busaidi now hopes that triumph will help boost the development of the sport in his country, as he explained to FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Mr. Sayyid Khalid Hamad Hamoud Al-Busaidi, what brings you to FIFA headquarters?
Sayyid Khalid Hamad Hamoud Al-Busaidi: I spoke with Mr. Blatter about how we could reform the regulations of the Gulf Cup so that they fall in line with other international competitions and FIFA tournaments. It's a very important tournament in the region and we want to improve it. FIFA will therefore be studying all the various aspects - marketing, discipline, calendar dates etc - and give us their opinion. There will be a seminar involving the eight participating nations in April and we'll be able to pass that information on.
Did you discuss any other issues?
We also spoke about the development of football in Oman. I am the first elected President of the Omani FA and my primary objective is the development of football in the country, with one of the goals being to turn the local championship into a professional league. I also want to bring together the country's various decision-makers to find a way of showing championship matches on television. We're also working on a project which should allow us to build a football academy in addition to the artificial pitch planned as part of the Goal project.
You mentioned the Gulf Cup, which Oman won for the first time in January. What did that represent for your country?
It was a massive success for us. President Blatter attended the semi-finals and said to me, "the atmosphere in the stadium and the streets shows that this is an important tournament in this region." And I told him it's a mini World Cup for us. The fact that we beat Saudi Arabia in the final - a team we had never defeated in a competitive match - after losing two finals (in 2004 and 2007) made it truly historic.
What impact could it have on football in Oman?
It's an opportunity for us to develop the game in the country and to alter the perceptions of potential partners and the media. Oman is a country with 2.5 million inhabitants of whom 50 per cent are aged 15 or younger. The potential for the development of football is enormous. We have 18 players playing professionally abroad and that proves we have the talent. We're already looking forward to [the FIFA World Cup in] 2014, having put the disappointment of dropping out of the race for 2010 behind us. We're thinking long-term and we're planning for that. That's what you need to do to succeed in football.