Palestine, Armenia, Turkey and women's game honored

[FIFA AWARDS] The FIFA World Player Gala 2008 that unveiled last year's top players also included the awarding of the inaugural Development Award, the Fair Play Award and the Presidential Award, which U.S. national team forward Heather O'Reilly accepted  on behalf of the "women's game."

"We are delighted with the progress which has been made so far in the women's game," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.

O'Reilly, 24, has won two Olympic gold medals (2004, 2006), a bronze medal at the 2007 Women's World Cup, and she lifted the U-20 Women's World Cup title in 2002.

Palestine won the inaugural Development Award, "in recognition of the difficult task that it had accomplished in keeping soccer alive and also for its work with FIFA in building the first international-standard stadium in the West Bank, as well as organizing the now famous match between Palestine and Jordan in October 2008," said Blatter.

The FIFA Fair Play Award for 2008 went to the federations of Armenia and Turkey for their part in encouraging dialogue between two countries that otherwise do not have any form of diplomatic relationship.

On Sept. 6, 2008, the President of Turkey, Abdula Gul, spent eight hours in Yerevan, on the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsian, in order to attend the two countries' qualifying game for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. According to FIFA, "As a result, sport, and more specifically soccer, has helped alleviate a situation where traditional diplomacy had failed since 1991, the year Armenia gained independence."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country was holding the EU Presidency at the time, dubbed the meeting a "historic and brave initiative."

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