After the break it was the turn of the Football Committee and another star-studded line-up arrived at the headquarters of world football’s governing body to analyse today’s game and make suggestions for a better future.
The names of Facchetti, Charlton, Bettega, Boniek, Eriksson, Stojkovic, Weah, Abedi Pele, Hugo Sanchez, Roger Milla, Hege Riise and Charmaine Hooper and others were positioned around a table chaired by former Spain and Athletic Bilbao player, FIFA vice-president and President of the Spanish Football Federation Angel Maria Villar Llona with deputy chairman Michel Platini sat to his right.
Once the old friends, both team-mates and rivals on the pitch, had embraced one another, the meeting kicked off with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter urging members to help improve the level of Fair Play in a year, 2004, in which FIFA celebrates its centenary and UEFA and AFC 50 years.
The use of post-match video evidence to judge controversial incidents in games produced heavy debate with the ball passed around the table for each and all to air their views.
There were those that agreed an extra eye would deter players from feigning injury or act behind the referee’s back, those that believed what takes place on the pitch should remain there. Some believed TV cameras should only be used for “blatant” cheating, while others suggested helping referees by introducing two extra officials positioned on the goalline.
And the diverse opinions from those that have left an indelible impression on the game once again underlined the difficulty in making modifications to such a successful product.
However, it was agreed that as role models, footballers had a responsibility to promote fair play.
The committee was informed of the latest developments on the work FIFA was doing to improve refereeing standards and harmonise the international football calendar before the many great names around the table once more shook hands and hugged and set about their short and long journeys home.