FIFA president Sepp Blatter saw ongoing recovery efforts first-hand in a visit to Japan’s disaster-struck northern region of Tohoku.
Blatter observed a soccer match between local youths at the Matsushima Football Center in Miyagi prefecture on Saturday that took place on an artificial pitch repaired with FIFA funding.
“I’m glad I came,” Blatter said. “Through football, we’re able to re-affirm the value of life.”
Including 1.1 million euros spent at the centre, FIFA contributed a total of nearly 4.5 million euros to repair and recovery efforts in Japan, mostly focused on the four prefectures severely affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
Stadiums throughout the region sustained damage after the earthquake, requiring considerable rebuilding efforts.
Blatter also suggested that one stadium in the region could be used as a venue in next year’s Club World Cup.
“This year we had to use the two cities (Toyota Stadium in Nagoya and Nissan Stadium in Yokohama), but next year is wide open,” he said.
“I’m sure that working with the local organizing committee, we’ll find a solution.”
Potentially suitable locations include Kashima Stadium in Ibaraki prefecture, as well as Sendai Stadium and Miyagi Stadium in Miyagi prefecture.
Blatter also suggested that Japan could be ready to host the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The country won the competition for the first time in Germany this year, and will look to defend their title in the 2015 tournament in Canada.
“The Women’s World Cup (was first) played in China (in 1989), and it hasn’t been back to Asia since,” Blatter said.
“Now you have the world champions and while the next one has already been given to Canada in 2015, it’s open (after then) and we should come back to Asia with the women’s championship.”