Monday 22 November 2010 was a momentous day for Ecuadorian football, marking as it did the official unveiling of La Casa de la Selección (Home of the National Team) in the city of Quito. Among those attending the gala event, which celebrated the opening of the country’s new national technical centre, were FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Rafael Correa.
“Today is a historic day,” said the President of football’s world governing body, who earlier on Monday evening had been honoured as a ‘Distinguished Guest of the City of Quito’. “In football it’s also important to have a home, because by having a home it means we know where to go, it shows us the way.
"Football is hugely important both socially and culturally, not just in this country but around the world. Our sport touches on issues such as discipline, respect and fair play, as well as providing a school of life for those who take part. That’s why this centre is an investment in the youth of this country, not just its national teams,” Blatter concluded, in reference to the work carried out as part of Ecuador’s second FIFA Goal Project.
The event, which also featured representatives from a number of other governing bodies, included the award of the Ecuadorian Football Association’s ‘Chain of Honour’ to the FIFA President, CONMEBOL President Nicolas Leoz, President Correa and the Mayor of Quito, Augusto Barrera.
‘Football brings hope and joy’
Clearly delighted to witness the national technical centre’s official unveiling, President Correa underlined its importance as the latest step in cementing Ecuador’s place as one of the continent’s leading sides. “I congratulate you for this magnificent Casa de la Selección, which will be of great support to our national team. Millions of people dream about football, it brings hope and joy, but above all it evokes the importance of working together.”
Ecuador first qualified for a FIFA World Cup™ final tournament in 2002, though they were unable to progress from the group phase in Korea/Japan. Four years later, however, they made history by reaching the Round of 16 at Germany 2006.
“By qualifying for the World Cups in 2002 and 2006, La Tri helped forge a sense of unity in our country,” Correa continued. “They evoked a sense of solidarity and shared hopes, as well as creating a bond which overcame local and regional differences. I want to congratulate everybody on this project, which gives Ecuadorian football a home of its own. It fills us with emotion.”
On his two-day visit to the South American country, Blatter was accompanied by FIFA vice-president and President of the Argentinian Football Association, Julio Grondona, and the serving presidents of the Chilean, Paraguayan, Peruvian and Colombian football associations: Harold Mayne-Nicholls, Juan Angel Napout, Manuel Burga and Luis Bedoya respectively.
After the ceremony, the delegation rounded off its visit by travelling to Guayaquil to take part in an event honouring the 60th anniversary of the Guayas Football Association (AFG). Hosted by AFG President Jose Javier Guarderas Hidalgo, the event also featured the Mayor of Guayaquil Jaime Nebot Saadi handing the Keys to the City to the FIFA President.