The National , Wednesday, June 1, 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
SPORTS Minister Philemon Embel was a special guest at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Extraordinary Congress held at the Hilton Zurich Airport on Monday.
Embel was invited by the Oceania Football Confederation and FIFA vice-president David Chung to Zurich to witness the general election of FIFA president of which incumbent Joseph Blatter in seeking re-election.
Embel’s first secretary, John Kambuou, confirmed that Embel was in Zurich as a guest of OFC and the PNG Football Association president Chung.
Embel, who is closely associated with rugby league as the chairman of PNG NRL Bid, visited FIFA House where he also met Blatter and his executive.
Kambuou said it was the first time a PNG sports minister had been invited to such high-level OFC/FIFA meeting.
Chung told The National via email that it was an opportunity for Embel to “feel the power of football”.
Embel was one of the several invited guests, especially sports ministers, from FIFA member federations to witness the election of the new FIFA executives.
During the congress, Chung put pen to paper with the English FA, Spanish FA and New Caledonian government in separate agreements that would support the development of football and strengthen a variety of social responsibility projects initiated by OFC.
A “Football for Life” donation of NZ$25,000 was also made to the Japanese FA to assist with relief efforts after the devastating earthquakes and tsunami that hit the country in March.
Apart from Embel, other guest at the OFC Congress were New Caledonia sports minister Jean Claude Briault, president of Japan Football Association Junji Ogura, president of the Royal Spanish Football Association Angel Maria Villar Ilona and the Football Association’s vice-chairman Barry Bright.
OFC general-secretary Tai Nicholas officially opened the meeting.
Chung then addressed the congress, highlighting the successful 100-day plan that has seen a number of milestones achieved since his election in January.
He reinforced OFC’s support for Blatter and expressed gratitude for the work FIFA had done to develop football within Oceania over many years.
In reply, Blatter paid tribute to the leadership of Chung and acknowledged the impact he has had on the confederation since taking over the reigns this year.
The first signing ceremony involved Chung and Briault.
Both put their signature to a memorandum of understanding which will see OFC work closely with the New Caledonian government to stage the Pacific Youth and Sports Conference and Sports Ministers’ meeting in New Caledonia in 2013.
It follows on from the inaugural conference in New Zealand last year which proved to be a huge success with around 1,000 young people coming together to explore ways to use sport as a tool for development. OFC also strengthened ties with the English FA and Spanish FA signing agreements with the two member associations.
Chung said the historic signings were a huge boost for Pacific football.
He said OFC had built a strong relationship with associations in Europe in recent times with them confirming they would support the development of OFC technical experts by delivering a range of courses in Oceania over the next two years.
“OFC is also grateful to the Spanish Football Association who have agreed to support the confederation in a variety of areas which include securing media rights for major competitions, supporting OFC in its social responsibility projects, implementing an exchange programme for players, teams and officials, assisting with World Cup preparations and many other initiatives.”