Blatter welcomes Iceland FA President
© FIFA.com

President of the Football Association of Iceland Geir Thorsteinsson and General Secretary Thorir Hakonarson led the delegation that visited FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich on 10 March 2008. In a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, Blatter, who turned 72 on Monday and was presented with some culinary delights from Iceland in honour of the big day, discussed various topics relating to both European football and the Icelandic game.

Geir Thorsteinsson has been working for Iceland's FA since 1992 and has held the top job since 2007, having previously served as General Secretary from 1997. His involvement with the game dates back much further: he featured in the KR Reykjavík FC youth team, before subsequently serving the club as General Secretary and Vice President. He was also a highly-rated referee.

After his meeting with the FIFA President, Thorsteinsson took time out to talk to FIFA.com.

Mr Thorsteinsson, what brings you to the Home of FIFA?
General Secretary Thorir Hakonarson and I are both new to our positions and so today was the perfect opportunity to pay our first official visit to the FIFA President and to discuss various important topics affecting the game. We are here to find out how FIFA can help us and how we can best serve FIFA.

Would you say Icelandic football is in good shape?
The game is very healthy in Iceland. At international level, we haven't quite achieved the success we would have liked in the qualification stages of the major competitions, but the team has acquitted itself well and showed there is a lot of potential to build on. The women's national side is looking strong and has every chance of qualifying for the European Championship. Last year we inaugurated our new House of Football at the association's headquarters in Reykjavík. Now we want to tap into the Goal projects and FIFA seminars to move the domestic game onto the next level.

How do you rate Iceland's chance of qualifying for a major tournament?
We believe in our team, and it's our dream to qualify for the finals of a major competition. That's what we're working towards and we have great hopes for the future.

Almost all of Iceland's internationals are playing abroad, including the really big names like Eidur Gudjohnsen. Do you see that as something positive or negative?
It is important to have big names playing the game abroad because they serve as role models for younger players. We are on the right track at youth level, and in the women's game. Unfortunately, we can't really compete with the top teams at club level because almost all of our clubs are amateurs. So we are really hoping that the national side can do well. To succeed at this level, it is imperative that we invest in the players of the future. This is where we are really working hard to make an improvement.

Can you describe what it would mean to you if Iceland qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™?
It would mean everything to us, like a dream come true. Qualification for the World Cup finals is a main goal, but we have to be realistic. We have a population of just 300,000. It's a matter of making the best of our limited resources.