Fresh from visiting Madagascar earlier in the week, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter flew on to Comoros on Wednesday evening. An associate member of FIFA since 2005, Comoros consists of four islands to the north-west of Madagascar and has a population of some 650,000.
Understandably, there was a huge sense of expectation among the islanders ahead of what is Blatter’s first trip to the country. After touching down at the airport in the capital Moroni, the FIFA delegation received an effusive official welcome with the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd ringing in the background.
In the evening Blatter was the guest of the country’s President, His Excellency Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, at an official dinner held at his residence.
Pulling in the crowds
The main events on the FIFA President’s busy schedule took place on Thursday. In the morning the visiting delegation stopped off to inspect two football pitches currently under construction, the possible foundations for future development projects. Not surprisingly, a sizeable crowd quickly gathered, yet another sign of the warmth of the local people.
The next item on the agenda was the opening of the national FA’s new headquarters, a project funded by the FIFA Goal programme. Joining the delegation for the ceremony was Comoran FA President Mr Sambi.
After a busy morning Blatter travelled on to Mitsmaiouli to open the Said Mohamed Cheick International Stadium and the National Academy, which boasts an artificial pitch that was used for a South Africa 2010 qualifying match against neighbours Madagascar. The facilities were financed by the FIFA Goal programme and the FIFA Win in Africa with Africa initiative respectively.
Blatter then gave a press conference during which he described how moved he had been by the sheer warmth of the welcome the Comoran people had given him, starting with their head of state.
Their short but eventful trip having come to an end, the FIFA President and his party then embarked on their journey back to Europe.