FIFA President impressed with Summer Youth Olympics
By Andrew Warshaw
September 9 - FIFA President Sepp Blatter has hailed the success of the football tournament at the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in Singapore last month.
The build-up to the event was overshadowed by the row involving Iran and their kit but in the end proved to be one of the hits of the Games, mainly thanks to host nation Singapore winning the bronze medal in the boys event and the progress of Haiti.
The youngsters from the earthquake-torn Caribbean country, whose team was formed only six weeks before the event kicked-off, reached the final before being beaten by Bolivia.
"We decided to open up the football event at the Youth Olympic Games to national associations that would not normally have much chance of qualifying for the Olympics or for the final stages of FIFA tournaments," Blatter said in an interview published today on Fifa.com.
"We chose the under-15 category because we've already got the FIFA under-17 and under-20 World Cups."
In the end, Iran narrowly missed out on a medal in the girls event won by Chile.
"I attended four matches in Singapore and saw some good football," said Blatter (pictured right with International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge).
"I was very impressed by the Singapore boys’ team; they produced some entertaining play.
"But first and foremost, the competition was about opening up these young players’ horizons.
"They had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, from different cultures – there was a real spirit of openness and conviviality.
"This is what football does best."
August 2010: I hope we have put smiles on Haiti's faces says coach after Olympic silver medal
August 2010: The inspiring story of how Haiti's young footballers overcame tragedy
August 2010: Iran coach happy to talk about football rather than clothing
August 2010: Exclusive - Blatter delighted to see Iran compete at Youth Olympic Games
August 2010: Blatter to attend Iranian girls football team opening match in Singapore