Following on from the FIFA Executive Committee meeting on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 December in Tokyo, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter gave a press conference where a number of subjects were discussed, from the current economic crisis to tighter transfer controls as well as the situation in Peru.
The protection of minors
I see it as the moral duty of each association to protect their young players, and this is why a new regulation has been adopted: all transfers involving minors will now have to be submitted to a Sub-Committee of the Players' Status Committee. Furthermore, training centres will also have to register every player with their national association.
The impact of the economic crisis on football
We are concerned about the impact of the crisis on clubs. The economic situation is getting worse by the day, and it is hitting those at the bottom end the most. Certain leagues are losing their sponsors, then their TV rights etc. We need to show solidarity in these troubled times. Sir Alex Ferguson said recently that the crisis was even worrying Manchester United, and Karl Heinz Rummenigge explained that Bayern would not be able to buy any players this winter. Looking on the bright side, clubs will no doubt be giving home-grown players a chance. Whatever happens, I have told the members of the Executive Committee that we need to show solidarity in these times of crisis and help out those who need it most.
England's application to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup™
England has applied to host the 2018 World Cup. This is by no means their first application - after all, they have a long footballing tradition. I can certainly assure you, however, that there are other very strong applicants. It will be a real battle, but of course fair play will be the order of the day.
The electronic transfer control system is currently being tested and we hope to be able to implement it by mid-2010. This system should enable us to have complete transparency regarding all deals, and it will protect players and control agents. It is by no means an easy task, but it is one we have to take on.
The suspension of certain associations
We also have certain problems with member associations which need to be dealt with. Our aim is to solve these problems, not create them. We are not the police, but there are statutes which need to be respected. I am therefore delighted to tell you that we have resolved the problems with Peru and Samoa, who have had their suspensions lifted. We have also provisionally lifted the suspension on Kuwait after the authorities gave us guarantees that the law would be amended. We will advise at the next Congress in June whether the suspension will be definitively lifted or not. As far as Ethiopia is concerned, we have decided to speed up the process of re-launching football in this country of some 80 million inhabitants, so many of whom are keen to play.
The situation in Peru
For years now there has been a conflict in Peru between the association and the governmental authorities. After numerous interventions by FIFA and CONMEBOL, the two parties have finally accepted to sit down at the same table to try to solve the problems. We're pleased with this common declaration, which is why we have lifted the suspension. This was important, as all of Peruvian football - both the clubs and the national teams - had been forced to sit and wait.
Experiments with refereeing
We are going to ask the International FA Board to try the five-official system on a professional level. Up until now this has been tested at youth tournaments, but now we need to take it to a higher level. We are not in favour of technological developments to aid refereeing but we know that football is getting quicker and quicker, so it seems only normal to give the officials some help in carrying out their duties.
Nigeria and the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009
We have discussed the Nigeria situation regarding the hosting of the U-17 World Cup next year. We will be sending a FIFA inspection team down there by the end of January, headed by Jack A. Warner, who is a FIFA vice-president and president of the tournament's organising committee. This team will go down there to make sure that the various pending issues have been resolved.