FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter today received the Order of Merit for Sports of the Republic of Korea from President Lee Myung-Bak during a ceremony held at the Blue House in Seoul.

“The Republic of Korea would like to honour President Blatter for his contribution to the development of sport and the steps taken by football towards world peace,” said President Lee during the ceremony.

Following the event, both dignitaries made a statement in front of the media. The President of the Korea Republic said: “FIFA and football play a very important role in fostering peace and friendship across the world, as we have seen recently with the success of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Football is also a tool for development and education”, he added.

Discussing his country’s bid to host 2022 FIFA World Cup™, President Lee underlined the commitment of his government and indicated that “football is the only common link which can unite the people of the two Koreas”. He added: “Organising the FIFA World Cup would bring a message of hope and peace not only to the Korean peninsula, but also to the world.”

Blatter, for his part, spoke of his pride at this latest honour: “It is a great honour for FIFA and for me personally to receive this Order of Merit. I am happy to be back in the country where the Fan Fests became a global phenomenon in 2002, where they were organised with great success. Above this, there is no doubt that Korea should be ready to organise a good World Cup in 2022.”

“Football is more than a game, as it has a socio-cultural impact and can therefore connect people all over the world”, he concluded.