FIFA President Gianni Infantino has expressed his sorrow at the death of distinguished Football Association of Finland President Pertti Alaja, who passed away aged 65.
The former Finland international, who represented his country 29 times as goalkeeper, died after a serious illness, having been unanimously re-elected for a second term as President in 2016.
“Please accept my deepest condolences on hearing this morning of the passing away of the President of the Football Association of Finland and former international player Pertti Alaja," FIFA President Infantino said in a later to the Finland FA.
"On behalf of the members of the international football community, l would be grateful if you could extend our deepest condolences to his family and Ioved ones. We hope that, in some way, our words of support may help bring a Iittle bit of peace and solace in this time of sadness.”
Alaja served as a tournament director at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, spending two years directing LOC operations in the build-up to the extravaganza. This featured among a number of roles on FIFA committees during almost three decades in sports administration, including spells on the FIFA Disclipinary Committee, being part of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013 and part of the FIFA Committee for Fair Play and Social Responsibility.
He also enjoyed an additional role for FIFA in South Africa, having been key in helping facilitate the country’s post-apartheid football landscape as the represented the world governing body in discussions between the local associations.
Having won the Finnish championship as a player, he would go on to play around Scandinavia and in the USA before taking up the role of goalkeeper coach for the national side. From there he made the switch behind the scenes, working his way up from Deputy General Secretary in 1988, before being elected President for the first time in 2012.
"Personally, I will keep the moments of friendship, shared together in Helsinki last April at the occasion of the 41st Ordinary UEFA Congress, forever in my heart," FIFA President Infantino added.