Japan planning to say thank you
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Three months after disaster struck the country, Japan’s football association is planning to express its gratitude to all those who helped out from the world of football during the upcoming global tournaments in which it will be competing.

“It’s at difficult times that you find out who your friends are,” Zico told FIFA.com during the ‘Solidarity Match’ he had a major hand in organising on 7 April. The event was conceived to help out victims of the tragic events which had befallen the country the previous month, and a little later another former Brazil icon, Cafu, set about planning another charity game. As the whole world came to Japan’s aid, the football family was prominent in providing assistance.

It’s at difficult times that you find out who your friends are.
Former Brazil great Zico

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, Joseph S. Blatter was able to provide the country with a fresh double helping of good news, unveiling a programme of support measures and confirming that Japan will host the next edition of the FIFA Club World Cup this December. The FIFA President spoke at the time of "the sympathy of the football family for all the victims of the tsunami and the people of Japan".

The country is now keen to voice its gratitude to everyone who has helped and it has charged the Japanese Football Association with passing on the message. Japan has teams gearing up for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011, and at each tournament statements of thanks will be addressed to the watching world.

‘Gracias’, ‘Danke’, ‘Grazie’
Thus, supporters at stadiums during those competitions will hear the following message over the loudspeakers: “Representing the Japanese football family, and especially those who fell victim to the tragic earthquake and tsunami which affected Japan in March 2011, the Japanese FA would like to express its gratitude to the football family for the marvellous support and friendly cooperation it provided to help rebuild the country. Thank you.”

In addition, a large banner will be unfurled before every match featuring Japan on Mexican, German and Italian soil, with the gratitude of the Japanese people expressed in the simple message: “Thank you for your support.” After that, football will again take centre stage.

“Football brings hope and emotion, and we hope that the game will help bring back a smile to the faces of these children," said Blatter during his visit to Japan on 23 May. Due to kick off this weekend, the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 will provide the first opportunity to do precisely that.