Valcke: Beach soccer important to FIFA
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The countdown to the start of Marseille 2008 continued on Wednesday with a press conference attended by some of the men who have helped make the showpiece event a reality. Here is what they had to say.

Jerome Valcke, FIFA General Secretary
"Beach soccer is still a relatively new member of the FIFA family and while it was logical we should take charge of this new discipline, it was also entirely logical to choose Marseille as the first venue to host the event outside Brazil. I know Joel and Eric Cantona's hearts will skip a beat when the first match of the tournament gets underway and it is thanks to them and their perseverance that all this has been made possible. As of 2009, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will be staged every two years to give all the confederations the chance to organise their continental tournaments, and I would like to stress just how important beach soccer is to FIFA."

Ricardo Terra Teixeira, FIFA Executive Committee member and President of the FIFA Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee
"It gives me great pleasure to be here for the first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to be organised outside Brazil and I am sure that this tournament will be just as successful as its three predecessors. I can assure you that we will be seeing some great games and that anyone unfamiliar with the sport will be won over by it."

Jean-Pierre Escalettes, President of the French Football Association
"Marseille and beach soccer have been enjoying a love affair for many years now and I have every confidence this competition will be a success. This event is more important than people might think. I would like to thank FIFA for their choice and the FFF and all their volunteers for the extraordinary work they have performed. Our aim is to promote this sport as much as we possibly can and the success of this World Cup will underline our immense commitment to it."

Eric Cantona, France coach
"Like any native of Marseille I am very proud to see this great event being held here. Everyone has played their part in showing FIFA how well founded our candidature was. Brazil are still hot favourites to win the competition but more and more sides can now stake a claim to the world title. I'm sure, for example, that Russia will cause a surprise or two. As for us, we will be competitive and we can't wait to get started. I'm hoping to be back in this press room on 27 July telling you all how happy I am to have won the trophy."

Buru, Brazil player, adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Shoe winner in 2007
"On behalf of all the players I would first of all like to thank the city of Marseille for welcoming us. I hope that this tournament will be just as spectacular as the three before it and I can assure you that fair play will be our watchwords on and off the pitch. Good luck to everyone."