Blatter reveals double boost for Japan
© AFP

The FIFA President has delivered a huge double boost for Japan by announcing a programme of support measures and confirming that the country will host this year’s FIFA Club World Cup.

Joseph S. Blatter made these announcements following meetings with Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, the country’s minister for sports, education, culture, science and technology, Yoshiaki Takaki, and the president of the Japanese Football Association (JFA), Junji Ogura. Expressing "the sympathy of the football family for all the victims of the tsunami and the people of Japan" and complimenting the Japanese people on the courage and dignity they have shown, the FIFA President voiced confidence that the nation will “organise a fantastic event” when the FIFA Club World Cup returns to familiar surroundings in December.

Pointing out that major volleyball and gymnastics events have recently been confirmed for Japan, Blatter stressed the need to continue this show of solidarity from the sporting world. For FIFA, that desire to stand shoulder to shoulder is also extending to various activities that will help revive and restore the football infrastructure of a country devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck on 11 March. Full details of these measures will become clearer after the meeting of FIFA’s Financial Committee on Thursday but, already, Blatter was able to pledge that three Goal projects – each worth 500,000 USD – will help rebuild the JFA’s damaged J.League medical centre and football academy.

I want to express my sincere gratitude for the generosity shown by FIFA towards Japan in this difficult time.
Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan

FIFA has also thrown its weight behind Brazil legend Cafu’s bid to organise a charity match in aid of the disaster victims, while partners adidas are also lending a hand with a substantial gift of equipment to Japan’s young footballers. As Blatter said: "I am very pleased that we can come back and organise the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. More than that, I am pleased that we will contribute to rebuilding the J.League medical centre and football academy in the disaster area and that, together with our partners adidas, we will provide thousands of equipment items for Japanese children. Football brings hope and emotion, and we hope that the game will help bring back a smile to the faces of these children."

This show of faith and support has certainly not gone unappreciated, with prime minister Kan conveying the gratefulness of a nation. He said: "I want to express my sincere gratitude for the generosity shown by FIFA towards Japan in this difficult time. We are grateful for FIFA's decision to bring the Club World Cup to Japan, especially because of what it means to the children, and we will make sure that all preparations are in place. I want to thank the President of FIFA for giving them (the children) the chance to smile once again through football."

Takaki also expressed his gratitude for FIFA’s solidarity in Japan’s hour of need, and pledged that the country would do “everything possible” to stage a FIFA Club World Cup of the highest possible standard. The minister for sports, education, culture, science and technology also delivered to Blatter an official government letter setting out various guarantees concerning the December showpiece.

The FIFA Club World Cup, the most recent edition of which was held in Abu Dhabi in December of last year, has been staged in Japan on four previous occasions and is returning to the country for the first time since 2008.