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Dream job: Taking on Maradona

Ever fancied facing football great Diego Maradona on a football pitch? For Eddie Drollet, that dream came true earlier this month. Drollet, who is the Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA) general secretary, attended the 67th FIFA Congress with three other local football administrators and played in the FIFA Legend Football Tournament. CIFA president and FIFA council member Lee Harmon, CIFA vice-president Tangitamaiti Tereapii and board member John Taripo also attended the two-day meeting in Manama, Bahrain, last week. But it was Drollet who probably had the most memorable time following his selection in the OFC All Star to play the CONMEBOL All Star (South America Federation) featuring players such as Maradona and Brazil legend Cafu.

“The FIFA Football Tournament was played at the Bahrain National Stadium on Wednesday, May 10. There were eight mixed teams of 16 players with two FIFA legends per team plus 14 congress delegates,” Drollet said.

He was selected to play in the OFC team, representing CIFA, along with 15 players from the OFC delegates.

“This was a brain child by the FIFA president (Gianni Infantino) to bring together football legends to have fun and show their skills and talents playing alongside congress delegates from different FIFA member countries.”

Drollet was pictured taking on Maradona in that match.

“This was a huge experience and one of my greatest moments in life,” he said.

The FIFA Congress had a number of key issues on agenda which include the need to boost women’s football, the fight against racism, match-fixing and doping, and FIFA finances which Infantino said were “extremely solid” after recent reports of major losses. The FIFA Congress also voted overwhelmingly to fast-track the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup, which will be the first tournament expanded to feature 48 teams from the current 32 team format.

“The FIFA Congress is an annual event held in different venues around the world with 211 countries invited to come together and vote on decisions formulated by the FIFA Council and its various FIFA Standing Committees,” Drollet said.

“The mere involvement of Cook Islands Football Association in casting our vote on agenda items at the congress is huge in that our vote as a small island nation is counted.

“We are also proud to announce that Ms Talissa Koteka has been elected and voted on the FIFA Disciplinary Committee at the congress for a term of four years, effective immediately.”

Local Crown lawyer Koteka replaces Norman George who has completed his four years term in the disciplinary committee of the international football governing body.

-Rashneel Kumar

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