Sun, football and stars at Ulrichen

A host of Swiss stars were in sunny Ulrichen, Switzerland, on Sunday to display their skills at the 12th Sepp Blatter Tournament.

Every year large crowds flock to the little mountain village in the canton of Valais to watch a four-team competition held in honour of the FIFA President, who hails from the local town of Visp, and featuring several of Switzerland's most famous footballing sons.

"I feel part of a family here and all the players are members of a family too; the football family," said a beaming Joseph S. Blatter in an interview with the newspaper Matin.

For the second year in a row FC Naters, who play their football in 1. Liga (the third tier of the Swiss football league), ran out winners, making their superior football and fitness count.

It's the third time I've played in the event and it's always great to see some old faces. I know we were only work colleagues but we've all stayed on really good terms.
Stephane Chapuisat.

The main attraction of the day, however, was the match between an All-Star FIFA team featuring the likes of Jean-Paul Brigger, Stephane Chapuisat, Kubilay Turkyilmaz, Stephan Lehmann, Murat Yakin and Alain Geiger, and the 2000 team, comprising stars of yesteryear such as Richi Bauer, Urs Meier and Raimondo Ponte. In charge of proceedings was international referee Massimo Bussaca, with players and fans alike thoroughly enjoying the festive atmosphere.

A glittering guest list
Also in attendance were a long list of football VIPs including current Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, former Strasbourg coach Gilbert Gress, legendary German midfielder Gunter Netzer, former national boss Kobi Kuhn or ex-international Hakan Yakin, all of whom happily signed autographs for the fans.

"Days like this are a great way of catching up with friends," Alain Geiger told Matin. "It's great to see people like Rudi Elsener, Raimondo Ponte and Murat Yakin all on the same pitch together. It really helps bring down the barriers between generations."

Former striker Chapuisat expressed his delight at returning to the tournament once more. "It's the third time I've played in the event and it's always great to see some old faces. I know we were only work colleagues but we've all stayed on really good terms."

All in all it proved to be a great day for everyone and it was all in a good cause too, with the Sepp Blatter Foundation handing over a cheque for 10,000 Swiss francs to the Association Forum Migration Haut-Valais, which provides advice to people and companies on issues relating to immigration and social integration.