The President of FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Sepp Blatter arrived in Jordan Saturday at the start of a four-day visit to the region.
Blatter inaugurated a stadium in Turrah, partly funded by FIFA, and visited the Zaatari refugee camp near the unstable Syrian Border. He also inaugurated a polo stadium in Amman.
On Sunday, Blatter was set to visit to the West Bank, to formally open a pitch in Tulkarm, as part of FIFA’s Goal project, visit a Football Academy in his name in El Bireh, and meet with leaders of the Palestinian Football Association in Al Ram.
Blatter is also to hold talks with Israeli government representatives and meet with Avi Luzon, president of the Israel Football Association.
Blatter’s visit comes three weeks after Israel hosted the 2013 Under-21 European Championship. Despite the efforts of several boycott-pushing pro-Palestinian groups, the tournament was widely considered a success, with thousands of fans pouring into the country for one of the most prestigious sporting events ever held in Israel.
The eight-country contest — featuring games in Tel Aviv, Netanya, Petah Tikva, and Jerusalem — included some of the brightest young stars in European soccer. Spain defeated Italy 4-2 in the final in front of a sold-out crowd estimated at 29,000 spectators in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium.
Blatter and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) President Michel Platini insisted that the tournament go ahead in Israel, despite the pressure for a boycott.