On the eve of the opening match of the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee held a media conference in Nagoya at which Chuck Blazer, Junji Ogura and Kozo Tashima answered questions about the upcoming tournament. The match officials for tomorrow’s Auckland City-Kashiwa Reysol curtain-raiser were also revealed, with Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli confirmed as the man in the middle.
Chuck Blazer, Organising Committee Chairman
Having been to the previous FIFA Club World Cups Japan has hosted, I have very high expectations for this event. The JFA is again demonstrating its capacity to host a top class event, and the teams and officials are already expressing absolute pleasure at the excellent treatment they’re receiving.
On staging the tournament in Japan following the March tsunami and earthquake
I think it is a wonderful opportunity, after those natural tragedies, to be of assistance. FIFA is assisting with six projects in different venues, and donating $6 million USD. I also think the fact that we indicated earlier this year that we would be going ahead with the tournament here was crucial in showing support for Japan and local football here.
On the possibility of a Women’s Club World Cup
In terms of today’s meeting, that has not been a subject of discussion. Personally though, I’m a big supporter of women’s football, and I would be very happy if we get to the point where we could stage a successful Women’s Club World Cup. I fully support the principle of women’s footballers being given all the opportunities extended towards men, and in all other respects FIFA have done that. As soon as it’s physically possible to support a Women’s Club World Cup with enough participants, I think FIFA should look at it very seriously.
On the issue of doping control
At this tournament FIFA will be initiating a new procedure to try to establish some kind of baseline on players in terms of out of competition testing regarding steroids. It’s aimed at looking at minor anomalies in blood and comparing to prior history. It’s the first time we’ve done this, and all players will be tested before the competition.
Kozo Tashima, JFA General Secretary
Today we’ve had a wonderful and successful Organising Committee meeting, and as host association we are making full preparations for the start of this wonderful tournament. We are looking forward to seeing many fans coming to the stadiums and watching all the exciting football.
Junji Ogura, JFA President
On support received since the earthquake and tsunami
I would like to thank FIFA and the participating teams at this tournament for their cooperation with our charity project, Re-Kickoff Japan. Lionel Messi, Neymar and other famous players have all signed shirts, photographs and donated goods that will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to areas affected by tsunami and earthquake. Mr Blazer, the Organising Committee and FIFA have also been very generous and understanding, and we really appreciate their support for Japan and Japanese football.
On the prospect of players and officials visiting regions affected
Because of the tournament’s tight schedule, it will be virtually impossible for players to visit. But the FIFA President, Mr Blatter, will be arriving at Sendai Airport on Saturday and will visit the affected areas. One of FIFA’s areas of support has been to restore damaged football facilities, and Mr Blatter will see the work that has been done and hold a press conference afterwards.
On the choice of FIFA Club World Cup venues
This year is the tenth anniversary of the Toyota Stadium and that’s why five matches out of the eight will be there. But the semi-finals and finals will be played in Yokohama. The old Intercontinental Cup was always held in Tokyo, and that is perhaps why people associate this tournament with Tokyo. But since 2002 Yokohama has been our biggest stadium and that is why we stage major matches there.