On a quiet day, FIFA receives about 250 letters. On a busy day, it is easily twice as many. Add to that a comparable number of faxes and a growing amount of e-mail messages, not to mention the hundreds of telephone calls, and the scope of FIFA's communications activity becomes apparent, in more than just the four official languages.

Post-World Cup is inevitably a peak period for correspondence from football fans around the world. Working through the mailbag is an enormously time-consuming task but also very fascinating. So many people feel strongly about what was good or bad about France 98. And of course everyone is entitled to an opinion - and to a reply.

The World Cup post-bag reflects the feelings and concerns of the fans, the people whom the World Cup is supposed to entertain. Compared with previous World Cups, France 98 was an overwhelming success. Even specific complaints were put into the context of a competition that hundreds of writers described as the best World Cup ever, applauding not only the organisation and the atmosphere but also the standard and philosophy of play.

There were complaints too, of course, and most of these - who would have suspected otherwise after any football competition? - centred on refereeing. Most writers, however, acknowledged that the referees sometimes had an impossible task, as the players around them did all they could to make life harder through deceiving and (that unpleasant word again) cheating.

But what struck us most in the analysis of the comments was their variety. Everyone has an opinion, yes - but it seems almost everyone has a different one. What some observers get hot under the collar about appears of little or no significance to others.

Is that a good thing or bad? Should we be pleased that no one single aspect of France 98 was apparently so badly wrong that everyone was upset about it - or should we worry that people found so many different things to complain about, even if none of them catastrophically so?

That will be part of FIFA's customary post-World Cup analysis. For the time being, this issue of FIFA Magazine runs an eye over the

32 finalists - resigned to the fact, of course, that not everyone will agree with our findings.

But we, too, are entitled to our opinion.


Keith Cooper, Director of Communications.