FIFA headquarters graced by royalty
© Foto-net

FIFA received the first ever royal visit at its headquarters on Monday 28 January when His Majesty Ibrahim Mbombo Njoya, Sultan of the region of Bamum in Cameroon, and his wife came to meet the FIFA President in Zurich.

Sultan Mbombo is currently in Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, but he was very keen to make the short trip to Zurich to meet Joseph S. Blatter and visit FIFA's offices. Despite the fact that he has held the post of Cameroon Minister for Sports on three occasions and was also the first ever president of Cameroon's national football association (FECAFOOT), the Sultan had never previously had the opportunity to come to Zurich.

"This is a very emotional moment for me, I am lost for words," the Sultan said to the FIFA President. "I had to wait a long time before being able to visit FIFA, but I am glad at last to be able to come here with you at the helm. This is because you are recognised throughout Africa for having given African nations more places at the World Cup, and particularly for having given our continent a chance to host this, the greatest of all footballing events. I know that this required a great deal of courage and I am proud to tell you this face to face."

'Warm relationship'
Joseph S. Blatter made a point of thanking all of those people who were present, not least the Sultan's wife Mrs Jennifer Mbombo Njoya, the Mayor of Magba Mr Olivier Tiani Vessah, Mr Nchare Oumarou, the Dirtector of Culture in the Bamoun's Kings Palace, the Mayor of Zurich Dr Elmar Ledergerber and Dr Lorenz Homberger, curator of the Africa Museum at Rietberg in Zurich.

The FIFA President underlined this "historic moment,", adding: "This is the first time that a king and queen have graced our premises with a visit - what a great honour this is!" The President then went on to remind the audience of the ties that have long bound FIFA to the continent. "There has always been a warm relationship between FIFA and Africa," he said. "I have been working at FIFA for 34 years and I gave my first ever development courses in Africa. One of the very first was in your country, in Yaounde in 1977."

After a short reception, the delegation was given an impromptu tour of the FIFA offices. Before everyone went their separate ways, President Blatter remarked that: "FIFA and Africa are going to organise a wonderful 2010 World Cup together, and I am sure that Cameroon will put in a good showing."