by Jean-Paul Brigger, Head of FIFA's Technical Study Group
The world's best are on their way to South Africa! After a long wait, the first ever FIFA World Cup™ is being held on African soil, and what a fantastic occasion it promises to be. Everyone is ready for the off, the atmosphere is festive and the enthusiasm really infectious. Excitement and anticipation can be sensed on every street corner, and everyone is looking forward to it. I have really been impressed by it all.
I have been to Africa on a regular basis in the past few years, for various visits around South Africa and also for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt and the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria. What were my impressions? The people here are incredibly helpful and friendly, and so spontaneous. I can definitely say that I have had some incredible experiences and that people are really very nice.
The fact that the FIFA World Cup is being held in South Africa is a wonderful occasion for football, no question about it! African players have been plying their trade for European clubs for a long time now, and some of them turn out for the top sides. We know that African football is top quality, and now the fans in Africa are going to have the chance to see the very best players in their own wonderful stadiums. I am convinced that it will be an incredible tournament!
At the TSG, we will be analysing every match at the World Cup and keeping a close eye on the tactical developments. This will be an exciting challenge for us as we will be trying to see how football is evolving. Our TSG group is made up of various big names from our sport and we will be producing comprehensive reports in four languages, which we will be sending on to the 208 member associations, along with a DVD, a month after the tournament. This will be of great worth to the associations, not least in terms of furthering their footballing development.
South Africa is very much the focal point now. Let the FIFA World Cup begin, and let's enjoy a colourful, emotional and exciting tournament full of top-quality matches.