FIFA, CONCACAF visit Haiti

From left to right: FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke; Haitian Football Federation President, Yves Jean-Bart; President of the Republic of Haiti, S.E. Michel Martelly; FIFA President Joseph Blatter; CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb; and Sports Minister Magalie Adolphe Racine.

Delegation pledges to boost Haiti's football infrastructure with a new dedicated task force

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- FIFA President Joseph Blatter, FIFA Vice President and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb and FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke received a warm welcome on Tuesday in Haiti, where they held a productive meeting with the President of the Republic, S.E. Michel Martelly.

"Haiti possesses great talent and unexplored potential. This is a country with passion for football," said Webb. "Today is a defining moment for CONCACAF and for Haiti. When football and government join forces, we can obtain additional investment for our sport."

President Blatter proposed ideas and plans to aid the game there.

"We have come here to support Haiti in its efforts and rebuild football in the country after the 2010 earthquake," said President Blatter. "We must find a strategy for the sport to regain that level of commitment from all parties involved."

Martelly, who agreed to establish a plan to revive Haitian football, spoke of the necessity for government to support the sport's resurgence.

"We love football in Haiti. I am a big fan and a former player, and we need to make an effort in our country to put Haitian football back at the top of our region," Martelly said during the meeting. "The government supports the game and we will focus on infrastructure, having built over 40 stadiums in the last two years. We need to give our youth an opportunity, because football has so many positive aspects, not only in sport, but in terms of education and health."

All stakeholders, including Yves Jean-Bart, President of the Haitian Football Federation, and Magalie Racine, Minister of Sports, agreed that an integration of efforts was vital in order to move forward.

"After the earthquake, football was the first to restart its activities in Haiti, and it was only possible thanks to the support of FIFA," said Jean-Bart.

The visit also included a tour of the Sylvio Cator Stadium, the inauguration of the federation's new headquarters and a special ceremony at a FIFA development project, where hundreds of children from the football academy greeted the delegates with dance and music.

After President Blatter cut the ribbon at the Haitian Football Federation headquarters, a plaque was unveiled in honor of FIFA's generous investment following the earthquake of January 2010.