Along with H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad, HRH Prince Ali Al Hussein, Jordan FA President and newly-elected FIFA Vice-President, as well as Jibril Rajoub, Palestine FA President, Joseph S. Blatter today opened two football development projects in Palestine.
Indeed, he participated in the laying of the corner stone of the federation’s fourth FIFA Goal project, a football academy in Al-Bireh, as well as of another development project, namely the future headquarters of the Palestine FA in Al-Ram.
The latter will be erected near the Al-Ram Stadium which FIFA had contributed to the complete refurbishment of and that Joseph S. Blatter had inaugurated in 2008. Since then, the Palestine FA has played its first international competition home game in this arena, an Olympic qualifier against Thailand in March this year.
The FIFA President, who had the opportunity to address representatives from the sport and football family of Palestine during the day - "I feel at home in Palestine," he said -, also participated in a ceremony introducing all teams of the Palestine Tournament at the Al-Ram Stadium. This is the first-ever international club tournament staged in Palestine. It involves teams from Jordan, Mauritania, South Africa, Chile, Hungary, Syria, Senegal, Ghana and of course Palestine.
"This tournament is a great initiative," commented the FIFA President, who also praised the Palestine FA for their work in favour of women's football. "Not only has an 11-a-side women's football league been launched this year, but I'm glad to see all women involved in the federation's council."
"The tournament comes at a key moment. Our football has made very significant progress in the last years. We receive priceless support from FIFA," said Jibril Rajoub.
As was also the case during his last visit in October 2008, Joseph S. Blatter had an audience followed by a lunch with H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas. Furthermore, he was awarded the Honorary Doctorate from the Al-Quds University.
During this 24 hour-stay in Palestine, the issue of the free circulation of Palestinian players was discussed. "We know that Palestine is an exceptional situation for FIFA. Therefore, we need to find exceptional solutions. We'll do our best to help. Football has no borders," said the FIFA President.
Tomorrow, Joseph S. Blatter will meet students of the Birzeit University, who follow a FIFA-CIES programme, before continuing his trip with a visit to Israel.