President visits Qatar and Bahrain
© AFP

Having been present to see Egypt overcome Cameroon 1-0 in the final of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations last Sunday in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, the FIFA President then made an official visit to Qatar and to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

In Doha (Qatar), the FIFA President was welcomed by a party including the President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hamman of Qatar and the President of the Qatari Football Association Sheikh Hamad Khalifa Al-Thani.

Joseph S. Blatter was then granted an audience with the Emir of Qatar, His Royal Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. Others present during the audience were His Royal Highness the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani who is President of the Qatari National Olympic Committee, and Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani who is minister for sports.

The FIFA President was then invited to visit the Aspetar Hospital for Sports and Orthopaedic Medicine, a brand new facility which will be opening in the very near future - as well as the Aspire Academy.

Joseph S. Blatter and Mohamed bin Hammam, who is also Chairman of FIFA's Goal Programme, then continued their journey with a short flight to the Kingdom of Bahrain, the purpose of their visit being the inauguration of the Bahrain Football Association's second Goal project, presided over by Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa. The project has seen the building of a technical centre housing the ideal infrastructure to enable football to continue its rise in popularity in this Gulf state which came so close to qualifying for a FIFA World Cup™ for the first time in its history in 2006.

During a very successful inauguration ceremony, which was also attended by the President of the Bahrain Olympic Committee Sheikh Isa bin Rashid Al Khalifa, the President of the General Organisation for Youth and Sports Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed al Khalifa and by the Bahrain women's team and a youth international squad, Joseph S. Blatter announced that the Bahrain FA would soon be the beneficiaries of another FIFA initiative. This is currently entitled " Goal Football" and will aim to implement technical initiatives designed to energise the infrastructures which were built up during the initial phases of the Goal project. Five associations have been chosen to begin a pilot project, with Bahrain the first country selected.

After a private audience with the Heir Apparent of Bahrain, His Royal Highness Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the FIFA President was officially received by the King of Bahrain, His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who presented him with the Bahrain Medal of the First Degree.