Referred to as the cradle of Mexican football after the country’s first club was founded there back in 1901, the city of Pachuca will now also be known as the home of the first-ever 'Salon del Futbol Nacional e Internacional', a veritable Hall of Fame of global and domestic football figures, following its inauguration on Saturday 9 July.

At the same time, the capital of the state of Hidalgo also provided the setting for the opening of 'Mundo Futbol', an interactive museum that encourages visitors to experience the emotions and sensations specific to the beautiful game.

Attendees at the ceremony included Mexican President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, his wife Margarita Zavala, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, Chilean President Sebastian Pineira Echenique, Hidalgo Governor Francisco Olvera Ruiz and Mexican FA President Justino Compean, as well as numerous individuals involved in the organisation of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011.

What I have seen here is simply spectacular.

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter

The event began with a symbolic cutting of the ribbon and a guided tour of the facilities, run – microphone in hand – by the President of Pachuca football club, Jesus Martinez Patino, principal driving force behind the project.

“Participating in an event of this magnitude, in which the subject is football in its purest sense, is like being a part of the history of the game. What I have seen here is simply spectacular,” confirmed Blatter. The FIFA President paid special attention to the hall devoted to injury prevention, where he was able to view an area reserved for FIFA’s ‘11 for Health’ education programme, launched in Mexico on 1 July.

The ceremony itself was held in the Auditorio Gota de Plata theatre in the breathtaking Parque David Ben Gurion cultural park, in front of some 1,500 guests, who gave a standing ovation to the key figures in attendance and remained upright for the Mexican national anthem, performed by the 'Vive con Musica Yucatan' orchestra.

Among those present were members of the squads of local club CF Pachuca and feeder team, Leon, as well some living legends of Mexican football, such as Enrique Borja, Aaron Padilla Gutierrez and Antonio Carbajal, who played in goal at five FIFA World Cup™ finals for El Tri.

Football from a different angle
After taking care to thank all those who helped to complete the project, Martinez Patino then presented the members of the Honorary Committee who will be selecting the names that will enter the Hall of Fame. Following this, an orchestral version of the FIFA hymn was played for Blatter – whose surprise was only matched by his pleasure upon hearing the music – prior to his taking his seat.

On the subject of the interactive museum, the head of football’s governing body was visibly impressed. “You can see that years of work and passion, as well as a real love of football, have been ploughed into this remarkable facility,” he said, continuing, “It’s really made an impact on me, and people should know that it will give them the opportunity to enjoy the game in a completely different way; the interactive aspect is sure to turn this site into a truly unique and significant platform for fans of the world’s greatest sport.”

After Ruiz stressed the importance of the initiative for Pachuca in particular and the entire state of Hidalgo in general, Chilean President Echenique brought smiles to the faces of those present by creating a pun on the famous ‘chilena’ (a Spanish term for ‘scissors kick’) scored by Julio Gomez that recently propelled Mexico into the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

The last speaker was President Calderon who, after praising the achievements of the U-17 side, confidently stated that this project “will serve to motivate young people to play football in every corner of the land, giving them the chance to develop through sport”.