Former All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen is among a group of top footballers and coaches helping FIFA plan for the global future of men’s football.
Nelsen (43) has joined FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger for a two-day consultation in Doha, Qatar, where the views of players from six continents will be considered.
Nelsen played 49 internationals for New Zealand, as well as making eight appearances at Olympic Games. He led the All Whites at the 2021 FIFA World Cup Finals in South Africa, and his professional playing career included stints with Tottenham Hotspur, QPR and Blackburn Rovers.
Photo: Nelsen celebrates at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium after New Zealand’s qualification for the 2010 World Cup finals.
The group meeting in Qatar is part of a new Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on the future of men’s football, and together, the participants represent more than 3,000 international appearances and more than 300 FIFA World Cup matches between them.
Participants include Ali Al-Habsi (Oman), Emmanuel Amuneke (Nigeria), Jared Borgetti (Mexico), Tim Cahill (Australia), Youri Djorkaeff (France), Avram Grant (Israel), Sami Khedira (Germany), Alexi Lalas (USA), Marco Materazzi (Italy), Ryan Nelsen (New Zealand), Nuno Gomes (Portugal), Roberto Carlos (Brazil), Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima (Brazil), Mikaël Silvestre (France), Peter Schmeichel (Denmark), David Suazo (Honduras), David Trezeguet (France) and Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina).
Other members of the TAG on men’s football include Sami Al-Jaber (Saudi Arabia), Alessandro Altobelli (Italy), Iván Córdoba (Colombia), Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), Gelson Fernandes (Switzerland), Geremi Njitap (Cameroon), Mustapha Hadji (Morocco), Keisuke Honda (Japan), Júlio César (Brazil), Jürgen Klinsmann (Germany), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Lothar Matthäus (Germany), Faryd Mondragón (Colombia), Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria), Michael Owen (England), John Terry (England), Yaya Touré (Côte d’Ivoire), Marco van Basten (Netherlands), Antonio Valencia (Ecuador) and Javier Zanetti (Argentina).
More than 80 have been consulted already and it’s expected more coaches and players will be added to the consultation process.
The FIFA website says: “In line with decisions made at this year’s FIFA Congress, FIFA is conducting a wide-ranging consultation across football in order to reflect on the future of global football and assess options for changes to the international match calendars.
“Further meetings with other stakeholder groups, together with other assessments in relation to the future direction of women’s and youth football, are also planned, and in parallel, a study is being conducted on a range of aspects related to football competitions.
“A Technical Advisory Group on the future of women’s football has been created and will be led by the double FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis.”