New Zealand will receive the FIFA Fair Play Prize for 1999
The FIFA Committee for Security and Fair Play, meeting in Tokyo under Chairman Dr. Antonio Matarrese (Italy), decided to give the Award to the entire New Zealand football community for its efforts during 1999.
New Zealand was the host to a very successful FIFA Under-17 World Championship in November, which helped promote the game in the country. Earlier in the year, the New Zealand team at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico had performed gallantly against major opposition.
"The award to New Zealand is really aimed at everyone involved in football there," said Dr. Matarrese. "New Zealand is known as a sports-mad country, and we realise that football is not the number one sport. But the way in which the people supported the Under-17 finals, despite the elimination of their own team in the first round, was a great example to fans in other countries. The Under-17 organisers in Auckland, Christchurch, Napier and Dunedin found the right way to capture the spirit of the competition and to promote the tournament properly despite the effect of other major events such as the America's Cup and the Rugby World Cup shortly before the U-17."
In August, the senior New Zealand team had made many friends in Mexico by their sense of fair play in and around the matches of the Confederations Cup, but they were not eligible for the Fair Play Prize under tournament regulations. Here, too, the Kiwis went out in the first round, but not without mounting a serious challenge to established rivals including Brazil and Germany.
"I would like to congratulate the whole New Zealand football community," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. "Building football in some countries where it is not the national sport requires a joint effort, and this has been a fine example of how a shared attitude of fair play can have a very positive effect at all levels of the game. I hope this award will encourage more such dedicated efforts in the years ahead."