Beginning its European farewell, the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour arrived in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday 13 April.
Roger Milla, the Cameroon legend who repeatedly revived his FIFA World Cup career and set the record of being the oldest goalscorer ever in a FIFA World Cup tournament back at Italy 1990 was the guest of honour to greet the Trophy at a beautiful reception at the historic Esma Sultana Mansion. Also joining the ceremony were football players like Brazilian Elano of Galatasaray and Andre Santos from Fenerbahce. Senes Erzik, a member of the Organising Committee of the FIFA World Cup, welcomed the guests.
Percussionists offered an interesting form of entertainment by creating music through whistle sounds from various Coca-Cola bottles. The next day, thousands of fans gathered for a chance to take a picture with the original FIFA World Cup trophy. Milla inspired the Turk fans that not attending the 2010 FIFA World Cup did not necessarily mean loss of hope. “I believe Turkey will win the trophy one day”, said Mustafa Unal, a university student. “The short movie showed the FIFA World Cup in 2022, and why can’t we lift it then?”
The Trophy Tour concluded its European sojourn in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 19 April 2010 before it headed towards East Asia. The two-day event has managed to bring more than 5,000 local fans together, despite the changing weather which caused lots of rain on the last day of the fan experience.
Akhmetjan Smagulov, mayor of Almaty City, attended the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour event accompanied by Khairbolat Khaidarov, the Chief of Sport in Almaty Municipality. “I am a big fan of football and in fact I play football almost every week with my colleagues,” said Mr. Smagulov, “I hope that the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour will inspire lots of young people in our country to play football, and I am confident that our national team qualify for future FIFA World Cups. “
More than 40 finalists of “Coca-Cola Bylgary Dop” (Grassroots football) took part in the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour event. They represented 500,000 schoolkids who are involved in the grassroots programme on a yearly basis. Seilda Baishakov, a Kazakhstan footballing legend said: “From these kids, I see the hope for the Kazakhstan football, and I am glad that I will be able to share with them my love of football and my life experience with these young hopefuls.”