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Japan trip confirmed for Auckland City

Japan had been pencilled in to stage the Club World Cup by FIFA but the country’s suitability to host such an event was thrown into doubt following the Tohoku earthquake, which struck off the coast on March 11.
But FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter paid a visit to Japan this month, during which he announced a programme of support measures and stated that the country would remain as host. That has now been confirmed by the FIFA Executive Committee, who met on May 30 at the Home of FIFA in Zurich.
The FIFA Club World Cup, the most recent edition of which was held in Abu Dhabi in December of last year, has been staged in Japan on four previous occasions and is returning to the country for the first time since 2008.
Auckland City earned the right to represent OFC after defeating Vanuatu rivals Amicale 6-1 on aggregate in the two-legged final of the 2011 O-League.
During his visit to Japan, President Blatter pointed out that major volleyball and gymnastics events have recently been confirmed as the country gets back on its feet and stressed the need to continue this show of solidarity from the sporting world. For FIFA, that desire to stand shoulder to shoulder is also extending to various activities that will help revive and restore the football infrastructure of a country devastated by the earthquake and tsunami.
Blatter was able to pledge that three Goal projects – each worth 500,000 USD – will help rebuild the Japanese Football Association’s damaged J.League medical centre and football academy.
FIFA has also thrown its weight behind Brazil legend Cafu’s bid to organise a charity match in aid of the disaster victims, while partners adidas are lending a hand with a substantial gift of equipment to Japan’s young footballers.
“I am very pleased that we can come back and organise the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan,” Blatter said.
“More than that, I am pleased that we will contribute to rebuilding the J.League medical centre and football academy in the disaster area and that, together with our partners adidas, we will provide thousands of equipment items for Japanese children. Football brings hope and emotion, and we hope that the game will help bring back a smile to the faces of these children.”
This show of faith and support has certainly not gone unappreciated, with prime minister Naoto Kan conveying the gratefulness of a nation.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude for the generosity shown by FIFA towards Japan in this difficult time,” he said.
“We are grateful for FIFA’s decision to bring the Club World Cup to Japan, especially because of what it means to the children, and we will make sure that all preparations are in place. I want to thank the President of FIFA for giving the children the chance to smile once again through football.”
Minister for sports, education, culture, science and technology Yoshiaki Takaki also expressed his gratitude for FIFA’s solidarity in Japan’s hour of need, and pledged that the country would do “everything possible” to stage a FIFA Club World Cup of the highest possible standard.
For more on the world game go to www.fifa.com

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