Sheffield FC, the oldest football club in the world, was founded 150 years ago, on 24 October 1857, and FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter made the trip to the northern English city to mark the occasion. For as the FIFA President often remarks, "football began with the clubs. One of them, Real Madrid, was even one of the seven founding members of FIFA." Sheffield FC received the FIFA Order of Merit in 2004.
On his way to Sheffield today 24 October, President Blatter stopped off at 10 Downing Street at the invitation of the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The pair held informal discussions on a number of topics, including the new European Treaty, which much to the satisfaction of all sporting bodies, and FIFA in particular, recognises the notion of the "specificity" of sport. As Blatter declared when the treaty was signed: "This is a major event and a determining one for the management of sport in general and football in particular."
Mr. Brown said that he supports FIFA in its initiatives relating to the development of young people through football, via its various education programmes. "The British government seems interested in supporting our Football For Hope movement, particularly in Africa, and we are naturally delighted," said the FIFA President.
Finally, the issue of an English bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ was raised by the Prime Minister, who is supporting the English FA in this venture. Blatter commented: "First we will need to see whether the notion of continental rotation continues. Should that change, we would be delighted to receive a bid from England, the birthplace of football."
The FIFA delegation then headed to Sheffield, where a thanksgiving service was held at 6pm in honour of the oldest club in the world. At the dinner that followed, President Blatter presented club representatives with a commemorative plaque. "We feel it is about time that Sheffield and our club receives the attention it deserves for playing such a crucial role in developing a game which is enjoyed by millions of people around the globe," said Sheffield FC chairman Richard Tims
President Blatter spoke of a "historic moment for the international football family. I give Sheffield FC my heartfelt congratulations. They were footballing pioneers and continue to work for the good of football, as shown by their Boots for Africa programme."