December 13 - Speaking at the International Football Arena (IFA) Roundtable in Tokyo, FIFA general secretary, Jerôme Valcke said that the future of football lies in the development of grassroots activities, "which must be dominated by a strong infrastructure that is centered around club football anywhere in the world."
Published on Thursday, 13 December 2012 10:04
The statement marks a shift in FIFA's development focus towards a club-based approach, starting at the local organisation level and the needs of those clubs and leagues.
Valcke said: "There cannot be other models that promise development and success.
"Football cannot be developed from the top down but must have its roots in playing the game at schools, city districts, regional levels and only ultimately at the top national and international levels.
"If we want to enhance football's sound and solid future, we must spend time, energy and money to develop our game and structure it professionally at base level.
"No sport can enjoy meaningful national and international success without a broad and strong base at the bottom of the football pyramid."
To emphasise his point Valcke went on to say that "it is quite clear to me that there are two key elements to our game, without which there cannot be any football at all.
"Clubs are the underlying grid that makes ours the most important sport in the world, while fans are the ultimate drivers for the excitement and relevance of our sport."
The IFA Roundtable in Tokyo was the first time the IFA had taken their format to Japan.
The invitation-only event hosted 30 leaders of industry, club football, representatives of governing bodies from the six FIFA Confederations and senior members of the FIFA's executive committee.
The schedule included a review of football's future in North Africa after the Arab Spring, while Champions League winners Chelsea FC presented a model on how European club interests can be harmoniously linked with Asian requirements and football development.
The official lunch which accompanied the event was hosted by the Aspire Academy.