On the back of Wednesday 2 December's extraordinary meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee in Cape Town, South Africa, the President of world football's governing body, Joseph S. Blatter, gave a press conference to go over some of the issues tackled. Alongside him was FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke who, with the Final Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ just days away, also wished to have his message heard.
FIFA.com brings you the key statements from a press conference which centred on incidents arising in decisive FIFA World Cup qualifying fixtures, irregularities in the football betting market and the issue of match control (refereeing).
Joseph S. Blatter (FIFA President)
On high-profile incidents in South Africa 2010 play-off encounters
"As we all know, there have been various incidents in the play-off matches which were part of FIFA World Cup qualifying. The matter came down to the Laws of the Game: in Africa, for example, an extra game between Egypt and Algeria was required, something which is difficult to organise. After detailed discussions about the regulations, the secretary generals of the various Confederations will assess a report which we will then analyse in March at our next meeting. There we will see if we introduce changes to the system used for the qualifying phase."
About possible changes to how matches are controlled (refereeing)
"We spoke about what to do with refereeing in future. It's clear that the main match official and his assistants cannot see everything that happens on the field of play. So, is it better to have more match officials or open the door to technology? We will have to evaluate this, though we did take one decision: even if the experiment with two additional match officials in the [UEFA] Europa League continues through to the latter stages (of the competition), there won't be any changes for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We will continue to use one main match official, two assistants and a fourth official. There's no discussion on this, (the finals) are too soon for us to evaluate other possibilities."
Regarding illegal betting and global match-fixing
"I'm proud to announce that we've received the fantastic support of a new partner in the fight against situations like these. We can't intervene in the law courts of individual countries, but INTERPOL will collaborate with us in our struggle and create an international task force to fight illegal and irregular betting on sport, and particularly football. Together, uniting the programmes that are already in place, we will work towards controlling transparency in football.”
On the play-off encounter between France and Republic of Ireland which took place on 18 November 2009
"The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has opened a case with regard to the behaviour of the French footballer Thierry Henry, and as a result will carry out an investigation as to what happened in that game. I don't know what the outcome of that will be given that it is an issue for the Disciplinary Committee and not the Executive Committee. We should let them get on with their job."
About the incidents relating to the matches in African Zone qualifying between Algeria and Egypt on 14 and 18 November
"At these games incidents occurred which were reported both by the referee and the official delegates. For that reason, the Disciplinary Committee has opened an investigation. What measures could end up being taken? They work with the [FIFA] Disciplinary Code, so all the possibilities are there within. What I can say is that the 32 teams which qualified for the FIFA World Cup earned their place on the field of play and will be in Friday's Draw."
Jerome Valcke (FIFA Secretary General)
On the parameters used to decide the seeded teams for 4 December's Final Draw
"It’s very clear, as in agreement with UEFA we used the [FIFA/Coca-Cola] World Ranking for October 2009. The decision was adopted in order to comprise a period during which all European teams had played the same number of games. Had that not been the case, to give an example, France would have had an advantage over England due to having played two more official encounters, even though England had won all their matches. This decision was taken with UEFA and turned out to be the fairest one for everybody."