CHICAGO (Wednesday, November 21, 2001) - On Monday, the Metropolitan Oval in New York City hosted FIFA President Sepp Blatter and U.S. Soccer Federation President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia for a first-hand look at what is the crown jewel in U.S. Soccer's continuing efforts to develop inner-city soccer locations and fields.
The event was attended by a number of New York and New Jersey area soccer administrators, players and supporters. Blatter was definitely in his element during the afternoon visit, enjoying the soccer atmosphere at the Met Oval, which overlooks New York City from its perch in Queens to the east of Manhattan.
Blatter addressed the players and administrators, posed for pictures and was presented with an embroidered Met Oval jacket from Jim Vogt, the Met Oval Foundation Founder and Director. In addressing the team and supporters, Blatter stressed the global nature of the sport and highlighted the infrastructure within FIFA's 203 members by introducing U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia, former USSF President Alan I. Rothenberg and Eastern New York executives Sal Rapaglia (president) and Howard Rubinstein (treasurer).
Through funding from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Nike, the refurbished and renovated Met Oval was rededicated earlier this year on May 18, 2001. The venerable Oval has been in use since 1925 in its various states of disrepair before being refurbished. The rocky surface has been replaced with FieldTurf, a new synthetic FIFA approved, lights have been installed and the seating areas have been renovated.
For Blatter, the visit to the Met Oval was part of a two-day trip to New York witch also included a CONCACAF Executive Committee Meeting on Monday. On Tuesday, Blatter was accompanied by CONCACAF President Jack A. Warner and General Secretary Chuck Blazer as part of the FIFA delegation which launched the FIFA-UNICEF Global Alliance for Children, which will be one of the highlights of next year’s FIFA World Cup.
Also participating in the ceremonies held on the North Lawn of the United Nations in New York City were Pelé, U.S. Women’s National Team star Brandi Chastain, actor Roger Moore and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.
Prior to the UN ceremony, Blatter, Warner and Chastain visited "Ground Zero,” the area of the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11. Blatter paid his respects to the victims and attached a FIFA pennant to the so-called "Memory Wall", while Chastain did the same with her famous No. 6 National Team jersey in what was an emotional moment for both.