Blatter pays tribute to Russia air crash victims
© AFP

After visiting Romania on Tuesday, the FIFA delegation, headed by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, travelled to Slovakia.

After meeting with Jan Kovacik, the recently elected President of the Slovakia Football Association (SFZ), and its Secretary General, Josef Kliment, Blatter said: “This informal meeting with the heads of the Slovakian FA has been very useful, and I can confirm that the new team is working hard.”

With a national team of its standing and nearly 500,000 registered players and officials – some ten per cent of its population – Slovakia should have a major stadium.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter

Following their visit to the SFZ’s headquarters, built with the assistance of the Goal project, the FIFA delegation made its way to the Slovakian parliament to meet Prime Minister Iveta Radicova and Minister for Education, Science and Research, Eugen Jurzyca.

“We spoke about football, and the Prime Minister was well aware how important sport, and football in particular, is to her people,” Blatter commented afterwards.

A solemn tribute
Accompanied by the SFZ president, Blatter opened the press conference that followed by paying homage to the victims of the air crash in Russia earlier in the day, which claimed the lives of virtually the entire KHL ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, among them Slovakian legend Pavol Demitra. A minute’s silence was held in their memory.

In a letter addressed to the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, the FIFA President wrote: “The fact that we can lose an entire team like that is simply shocking and something that nobody can quite comprehend. No words could ever be enough to bring comfort after such a terrible event."

One of the topics that came up during the press conference was the need for Slovakia to build a modern international stadium, prompting Blatter to comment: “With a national team of its standing, which qualified for the last FIFA World Cup™, and nearly 500,000 registered players and officials – some ten per cent of its population – Slovakia should have a major stadium.”

Kovacik added: “The SFZ has been in contact with the relevant authorities and has put forward a proposal. With the support of the government I am convinced that we can find a way forward and build a stadium.”