After opening with stops in Guatemala and Honduras, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter’s tour of Central America continued on Tuesday when he travelled to El Salvador to attend the opening of the country’s latest Goal Project facilities.
With over 5,000,000 people inhabiting its land area of 20,742 km², El Salvador is the most densely populated country in the region. And just like its neighbours, it also loves its football, with expectation already high ahead of Los Cuscatlecos’ opening game of the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup against Mexico.
On his arrival, the FIFA President received a warm welcome from a waiting group of children and Carlos Mendez, the President of the Salvadoran Football Association (FESFUT), who then escorted Blatter and the rest of the FIFA party to the National Palace to meet the country’s President, Mauricio Funes.
During the meeting, which was also attended by FIFA and CONCACAF Executive Committee member Rafael Salguero, the three leaders discussed the importance of football in integrating young people into society and in combating violence. President Funes also underlined his commitment to helping El Salvador achieve a higher international profile in its number one sport.
The country has twice qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ finals, at Mexico 1970 and Spain 1982, but was knocked out in the group phase on both occasions without winning a single point. The Salvadorans’ best performance on the regional stage came when they finished runners-up in the 1963 CONCACAF Nations Championship. The nation’s beach soccer team is doing its very best to raise El Salvador’s standing, having reached the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup for the third time running.
Building for the future
A member of FIFA since 1938, FESFUT began work on its municipal facilities back in 2002, with the support of a Goal Project. In 2009 FIFA’s Goal Bureau approved a second project with a view to bringing together all the country’s national teams at the hotel located at the Elite Performance Academy. That dream was finally fulfilled thanks to Goal 3, which now enables FESFUT to provide accommodation for all its teams and save on hotel costs.
On Wednesday, two years after the green light was given, the FIFA President took part in the opening of the Joseph Blatter Auditorium and the residence for El Salvador’s national teams. The event, which was preceded by a meeting with FESFUT’s Executive Committee, included speeches on the development of football across the country and the possibility of embarking on further Goal projects for the construction of more facilities and the creation of a training course for technical directors.
“Football, by its very nature, helps society to advance and we believe that with this support we can modernise Salvadoran football,” explained Mr Mendez.
After taking receipt of a scroll expressing FESFUT’s gratitude to him and then unveiling the plaque, Blatter had this to say: “It is an honour to be taking part in this ceremony. Football is a national concern, and its values provide a foundation for our lives. In being here today I can safely say that Salvadoran football is in good hands, that the country’s football authorities are working with confidence, and that it has the support of a government operating respectfully and in accordance with FIFA regulations.”