FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter enjoyed an audience with the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos as he paid a visit to the country for the conclusion of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011. Also featuring on his hectic schedule was a meeting with the Mayor of Bogota Clara Eugenia Lopez Obregon and the Director General of the Colombian Police Force, General Oscar Adolfo Naranjo Trujillo.
Blatter’s meeting with President Santos took him to the Casa de Narino, the head of state’s official residence. Speaking afterwards, his host had this to say: “Our objective, which was necessarily an ambitious one, was to make this FIFA U-20 World Cup the best ever. I think I can say, in all modesty, that we have achieved that goal. This tournament has been entirely positive for the country, both in terms of infrastructures and the social impact, and I would like to thank the FIFA President for his support in helping to organise it. The competition has been a major and hugely important responsibility for Colombia.”
“With no fewer than eight refurbished stadiums and the magnificent hospitality of the people, this competition has shown us how well equipped Colombia is to organise large events,” said Blatter. “We have also seen how football brings people together. Colombia has come to the fore over the course of the last three weeks, and the social and cultural legacy of the competition, encapsulated in the Green Goal, 11 for Health, and Football For Hope campaigns, is also tremendously significant, especially for young people.”
President Santos then expressed his gratitude to the people of Colombia: “I would like to congratulate everyone for behaving so well and ensuring that Colombia has fulfilled its obligations in front of more than 300 million people following the competition from around the world, not to mention the thousands of fans who have come to the stadiums to support their teams.”
Also comprising CONMEBOL President and FIFA Executive Committee member Nicolas Leoz, FIFA vice-president Angel Maria Villar Llona, FIFA Executive Committee member Marios Lefkaritis, FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 LOC Chairman and FIFA Executive Committee member Rafael Salguero, and the President of the Colombian Football Association Luis Bedoya, the visiting delegation then met with the Mayor of Bogota Clara Eugenia Lopez Obregon at the Palacio Lievano, her official residence, situated on the Plaza de Bolivar.
After receiving the Order of Merit of Bogota at a very well attended salsa festival, Obregon had words of gratitude for the governing body of world football: “I would like to thank FIFA for everything that this World Cup has given us. Families, women and children have made their way back to stadiums because we have brought down the barriers for this competition. We want to carry on in the same vein because all barriers do is keep people apart.”
“I am delighted with this success, and the positive effects of this World Cup will live on in the future,” said Blatter, who on Saturday was presented with the National Police Medal by General Naranjo.
In making the award, the Colombian police chief said: “I am presenting this medal to you on behalf of 162,000 Colombian police officers, and I would like to thank you for the confidence you have shown in the teams responsible for security at this World Cup.”
Thanking General Naranjo and Bogota’s security chief Brigadier General Jose Roberto Leon Riano, Blatter congratulated the Colombian police for their flawless security, which he said played an essential part in the success of what is a major competition.