FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has received thanks from Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at a meeting today in Tokyo for FIFA’s support to Japan following last year’s Great East Earthquake.
The FIFA President arrived in Japan this week for the culmination of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012, with the final to take place on Saturday between USA and Germany. The two elite names in women’s football saw off the challenge of Nigeria and host nation Japan in last night’s semi-finals.
The three-week tournament in the home of the world champions has been a highly successful event, showcasing the globe's finest young players.
“Thank you for FIFA’s support to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami last year,” said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. “To host the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup gave hope and courage in the various venues where the competition was held.
"Unfortunately, Japan didn’t make it to the final but it has still been important to help aid the recovery of the Japanese people. They see that football has many similarities to their daily life. They have to fight to win. Indeed, the good result at the Olympics gave a lot of courage to the Japanese people.
“It is important for Japan to continue to host international events, and Tokyo is currently bidding to host the Olympic Games in 2020. For now though, we look forward to Saturday and we hope the Young Nadeshiko will now win the bronze medal.”
Six matches at Japan 2012 have been held in the Miyagi Prefecture, a region hit especially hard by last year’s tragedy. President Blatter said football can provide a means for connecting people, especially in times of hardship.
“Thank you for showing your interest in football and congratulations for the organisation of the tournament,” he said. “I’m happy that Miyagi was used as a venue, with the government and Japan Football Association putting a lot of effort and energy into rebuilding the affected area. Football connects people and it was good that they could be unified around football.”