November saw the FIFA World Cup™ play-offs produce the last qualifiers for the 2006 finals as tense, two-legged showdowns across the globe provided five more teams with the lucky golden ticket to Germany 2006. The play-offs also left five nations thinking about what might have been as they missed out on qualification (see below).

Football mourned one of its most talented sons after the death of George Best at the age of 59. The former Manchester United and Northern Ireland star received tributes from legions of admirers around the world after captivating them with his sublime dribbling skills in the 1960s and 70s. His many fans included Pele, who described Best as one of the greatest players he had ever seen.
Best was named European Footballer of the Year in 1968, an honour which was bestowed upon Ronaldinho in November 2005. The Brazilian international added the title to the inaugural FIFPro World Player of the Year award as he looked forward to a potential hat-trick at the FIFA World Player of the Year Awards in December.

Saudi Arabia defender Hamad Al Montashari was named Asian Player of the Year as he helped Al Ittihad reach the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005 after overcoming Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates 5-3 on aggregate in the Asian Champions League final. Al Ittihad were joined in the Japanese line-up by Al Ahly of Egypt, who won the African Champions League thanks to a 3-0 triumph over Tunisia's Etoile Sahel.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter ended a hectic month's schedule by joining the South African head of state Thabo Mbeki in turning the first sods of soil for a new 'Football House' being built in Johannesburg to act as headquarters for the country's football association and the Local Organising Committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The football associations of Comoros, Andorra, Hungary, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and the US Virgin Islands looked forward to receiving their first Goal development projects after gaining approval status in November. That brought the total number of FIFA members to benefit from the Goal Programme to 176.

David Letsoalo, Ruben Morales and Tahir Latif were the regional winners in Johannesburg, Los Angeles and Sydney at the FIFA Interactive World Cup, earning themselves a place in the grand final in London in December.

FIFA and The Coca-Cola Company announced a landmark agreement that extended their partnership over an unprecedented term from 2007 to 2022 in the product category of non-alcoholic beverages.

FIFA/Coca-Cola World
All of the top ten qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals as the Czech Republic climbed up to second place behind Brazil. Spain were catching up in the tightly-packed scramble immediately behind (6th, up 2). Victories in friendly matches pushed Bulgaria (39th, up 7), Côte d'Ivoire (41st, up 7), Belarus (59th, up 11) and Cyprus (97th, up 6) much higher in the ranking.  

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™
Tension and drama were the predictable ingredients as the five play-off fixtures to settle the last remaining places at the 2006 FIFA World Cup provided joy and agony in equal measure. After the play-offs unfolded, Australia, Spain, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Trinidad & Tobago were left celebrating a trip to the ultimate event in world football next summer. Uruguay, Slovakia, Norway, Turkey and Bahrain all fell at the final hurdle.

November Key Dates:
Nov 4 - FIFA order Serbia and Montenegro to play their next home match without spectators following crowd disturbances at a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying match 

Nov 7 - First conference for FIFA's women's football ambassadors, Zurich

Nov 9 - The suspension imposed on the Yemen Football Association on 12 August now provisionally lifted

Nov 17 - FIFA Task Force for the Good of the Game starts work in Zurich

Nov 18 - FIFA opens investigation into the incidents surrounding the Turkey v Switzerland FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 qualifying play-off on November 16

 Three top stories:
  Final qualifiers survive Germany 2006 play-off drama
  George, simply the Best
  FIFA gives hope to Sri Lanka