FIFA's Top Man Coming To Ja

Author: 
Audley Boyd
Date Published: 
1998-04-13
Source: 
Jamaica Gleaner

FIFA president Dr. Joao Havelange of Brazil and his right-hand man, Sepp Blatter, are coming to Jamaica.

Captain Horace Burrell, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, told The Gleaner that "Dr. Havelange, who is the president of FIFA and Sepp Blatter, who is set to take over the throne, are set to make an official visit to Jamaica next month."

It is the first time in his 24-year presidential control that Havelange is visiting Jamaica and Burrell said "details will be outlined at a special press conference being called by the Federation. They are coming along with Austin 'Jack' Warner, Chuck Blazer and Harold Taylor of the CFU," added Burrell.

Warner, a FIFA Vice-president, is also head of the regional body which governs football, CONCACAF, and Blazer and Taylor are among their top executives.

Pressed for additional information on the benefits to be derived from the visit here by two of the sport's most powerful men - Havelange and Blatter - Burrell would only say that it will be "tremendous", reiterating that the planned press conference shall be the forum for further divulgences.

Brazil's Havelange has been head of football's world governing body for over two decades, during which he has revolutionised their activities to make FIFA one of the richest global sporting organisations.

They are to have a Congress in France just ahead of the World Cup finals and high on the agenda is the election of a new president. Havelange is not seeking re-election and in recent times Blatter, the long-time secretary general, has emerged as a leading candidate in a bitter campaign against 68-year-old Swedish businessman Lennart Johansson. The Swede is the president of the European Football Union (UEFA).

Regardless of the outcome, Havelange has already made plans that will ensure preferential treatment to Jamaica at the month-long quadrennial showcase for the sport, by extending an invitation to Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to view this country's first ever game in a World Cup final, against Croatia.

"Prime Minister Patterson is the only head of state to have been invited in an official capacity to the World Cup finals," Burrell said. "He is to be the guest of honour of Dr. Havelange to see the game Jamaica vs Croatia."

This comes against the background of "Jamaica being the only English-speaking Caribbean team to have qualified for the World Cup finals," said Burrell, adding that "this is viewed by the world governing body as a very special occasion for the region, hence the special gala affair plan for Prime Minister Patterson."