The Kongresshaus in Zurich provides the venue for tonight’s FIFA World Player Gala, a two-hour spectacular to be attended by the great and the good of world football. Hosting the show will be TV presenters Pedro Pinto and Charlotte Jackson, who have been working hard to make sure the glittering event goes off without a hitch. Taking a quick break from rehearsals, the masters of ceremonies told FIFA.com how their preparations for the big night have been going.
“It’s amazing,” says an awestruck Pinto, a sports anchorman for CNN International. “From a visual and technological standpoint I think this is one of the most fantastic events I’ve ever been involved in. The video montages are excellent. It’s the first time I’ve worked on an event with FIFA and the level of professionalism is superb. This is a unique opportunity for me and it’s very exciting.”
“It’s an honour,” concurs Jackson, a presenter for the UK’s Sky Sports. “It’s a top event and the best players in the world are going to be here. You can’t ask for any more as a professional.”
Understandably, the duo are looking forward to the opportunity to meet and greet the leading footballers on the planet right now. “I can’t wait and I’m really excited about meeting some of the players, especially the Liverpool ones,” says a clearly excited Jackson, unable to conceal her devotion to the men in red.
“The thing is, as well as the ten nominees for the World Player and the Women’s World Player, this year we also have a World XI. It’s going to be fantastic,” adds Pinto, no less thrilled at the prospect.
As anticipation mounts, both are admitting to feeling a little nervous about their evening’s work. “If you don’t get nervous about an event like this, then you don’t have any sense of responsibility. I think you need to feel a little nervous, especially when you have a live audience,” explains the experienced Portuguese news man. “We also have a lot of people putting in a lot of work behind the scenes and obviously we don’t want to let anyone down,” adds his sidekick for the day.
Having got a few rehearsals under her belt and run through the script over and over, Charlotte explains which areas she has been paying particular attention to. “The most difficult thing for a presenter at an event like this is responding to the audience’s reactions and getting things right when the players come up on stage to collect their awards.”
As far as Pinto is concerned, the most important thing is not fluffing your lines. “You need to have everything under control in your mind and know what’s coming up next. We don’t want to keep having to look at our cards all the time.”
Although they have never worked together before, the pair of presenters have an excellent understanding, until that is, the conversation turns to the subject of which players might be stepping up to collect the big awards. “I think Marta might win her fourth title, though the women’s award does look harder to call,” says Charlotte, a view her co-host does not share: “Germany won the European Championship and I think one of their players is going to take it.”
“As for the men, I can’t be neutral,” continues a patriotic Pinto. “As a good Portuguese, I hope Cristiano wins again.” The verdict brings a chuckle from his colleague, though the CNN man is soon having second thoughts about his compatriot’s chances. “Well, Barcelona have won six titles this year so maybe one of their three guys (Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi) is the favourite.” Jackson has no such doubts, though: “Messi … especially after his winning goal in Abu Dhabi.”
“We’ve got absolutely no idea,” they respond in unison when asked if they know the identity of the winners. “That’s top secret. No one has said anything to us and nobody has let slip the slightest clue in rehearsals.” It seems that Pinto and Jackson, like everyone else, will just have to wait until the envelopes are opened tonight.