Gisela "Gigi" Oeri, President of Swiss double winners Basel, headed a club delegation on a visit to Home of FIFA in Zurich on Tuesday 9 September 2008. After a positive and productive meeting with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, Oeri stopped by for a brief conversation with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Gisela, what brings you here today?
Gisela Oeri: We had a meeting with Mr Blatter to discuss a few key issues, how we as a club could work better with FIFA and vice versa, for example. However, it was first and foremost a meeting between friends.
After a first appearance in 2002/03, Basel are through to the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second time. What does that mean to you and the club?
We’ve worked towards this for a long time, which is the difference to the first time, when it basically came as a bolt from the blue. It’s been really hard-earned this time, so it means even more to me personally. The players, the whole club and I are riding a wave of emotion at the moment. Obviously, you can’t overlook the financial dimension either.
You’ve been drawn to face Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon and Shakhtar Donetsk. What are your chances of making the first knockout round?
There really are no easy opponents at this stage. I was secretly hoping we’d draw Barcelona. Last time out, we showed how much could be achieved if everything goes our way. I reckon our first home game against Shakhtar will more or less define the course of the campaign for us. If we come through that successfully, we’re capable of anything.
European qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ began at the weekend. What did you make of Switzerland’s 2-2 draw in Israel?
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch the whole game, although obviously it goes without saying I’m right behind the team. I’ve spoken to Ottmar [Hitzfeld, Switzerland coach], and he told me he’d have happily settled for a draw beforehand, although he’d naturally changed his mind afterwards, as it was basically a game we should have won. We’ll have to see what happens against Luxembourg on Wednesday. There’s everything to play for.