KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA has returned to its roots by opening an office in the centre of Paris where the world football federation was founded in 1904.

Confirmation has followed months of wide-of-the-mark speculation that FIFA was planning to quit entirely its massive granite-and-glass monolith on the hills overlooking Zurich.

Instead, as a statement explained, it is  intended to be “a strategic base for football development activities, [working] in close coordination with the 11 existing regional development offices across the world.”

Restoration of the 18th-century palace on the Place de la Concorde has been financed by the ruling, Al-Thani, family of Qatar – host to next year’s FIFA World Cup finals.

The move is ideal for ex-Monaco and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who was appointed, in November 2019, as FIFA’s chief of global football development “including its coaching, training and coach education programmes.”

An opening ceremony of FIFA’s new pad within the palace was attended by president Gianni Infantino, French state President Emmanuel Macron and French FFF supremo Noël Le Graët,

A FIFA statement added: “The launch of this new office is in line with FIFA’s vision to make football truly global and to strengthen cooperation with key international institutions.”

Infantino said: “Our aim of making football truly global also means that FIFA itself needs to have a more balanced and global organisational set‑up. Paris is a natural home for FIFA, not least since it was the original home of FIFA from 1904 to 1932. It is one of the great and truly global cities of the world, well‑connected and easily accessible.

“France is the home of the current men’s FIFA World Cup champions, and recently hosted a truly fantastic FIFA Women’s World Cup as well.

“France’s track record in football development is also second to none, and it is therefore also natural that much of the work of our Paris office will focus on football development activities.”

The architect of the Hotel de la Marine, built originally in the 18th century, was Ange-Jacques Gabriel, chief architect to King Louis XV. For 200 years it was the headquarters of France’s navy ministry.

Restoration of the building has been financed by the ruling, Al-Thani, family of Qatar – host to next year’s FIFA World Cup finals.