The FIFA President made the last stop on his visit to South America in Paraguay on Thursday 29 January. In the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, Joseph S. Blatter attended the 61st edition of the CONMEBOL Regular Congress and the inauguration of the South American Football Museum.
After his morning meeting in Brasilia with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Blatter travelled to Paraguay to take part in the opening session of the CONMEBOL congress. There he made a speech in Spanish in which he praised South America's contribution to football history.
"South America is the Old Continent when it comes to international football. As far as organisation and competitions are concerned, CONMEBOL is number one in the world," said the President of world football's governing body to applause from those present. "Of the 18 World Cups that we've held, CONMEBOL national teams have won nine - that's half!"
In his address, Blatter once again touched upon one of the issues that most concerns him in the modern game: "We need to prevent the exodus of young players who at the age of 13, 14 or 15 are tempted to go and play in Europe or other countries."
"South American countries, especially Brazil and Argentina, are some of the main providers of these boys. We need to protect these youngsters and prevent this market. By registering players from eight or nine years old we will be able to protect these boys, the clubs who develop them and the national identity of their teams."
Blatter also made reference to the testing times being endured by the global economy. "During a period when the world is going through an economic crisis, football is very valuable because not only is it a great game but it also forms part of society, culture and also the economy. We mustn't think that the crisis won't affect football. It will affect us, but the solution lies in solidarity between those who have more and those less privileged."
"We have solutions, because football is very strong thanks to our unity. We can't change the world, but we can create more comfortable situations for the future of our society," he concluded.
History in the making
Following his involvement in the Congress, Blatter visited the new South American Football Museum. He was accompanied by the CONMEBOL President, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay, Paraguay vice-president Federico Franco, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and FIFA Honorary President Joao Havelange.
The building, which is 9,450m2, is located on the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital and boasts 1,500m2 of exhibition space as well as a cinematographic complex with seven giant screens. Its on-site convention centre also has room for nearly 2,000 people.
"The greatness of this museum demonstrates CONMEBOL's value to South American football and is an example for the world. All the associations must be thanked for their contribution to this building," said Havelange.
"This is a building for history," said Blatter while he visited the Museum, to which he donated a replica of the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy. "Trophies are only handed to the winners, but we're going to make an exception. As of now, this replica will be part of South American football history."