Anyone who has attended and enjoyed a FIFA tournament over recent years will testify to the indispensible role played by the competition volunteers. And while these smiling, ever-helpful behind-the-scenes stars are generally seen as unsung heroes, their mammoth contribution was recognised this evening with the bestowing of the FIFA Fair Play Award.
This honour recognises and promotes the spirit of fair play in the beautiful game and, as FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke acknowledged, no-one displays this spirit better or more consistently than tournament volunteers.
"These thousands of remarkable individuals set an example to us all." Valcke said in a speech paying tribute to the award winners. "They give their time and energy to help us deliver the best World Cups possible. They bring enthusiasm and warmth to our tournaments. They make our tournaments special. And without these inspiring people, we would be unable to stage our events around the globe."
Previous winners of FIFA's Fair Play Award, which came into being in 1987, have included fans of clubs and national teams, as well as associations and individual players. Most recently, it was awarded to the Afghanistan Football Federation.