Joseph S. Blatter: Drawing the line
© AFP

The world owes it to the English philosopher, John Locke, for his insight that "all mankind ... being all equal and independent, no-one should harm another in his life, health, liberty" and that each should respect the other's reasonable nature. In other words, personal freedom ends where the next person's freedom begins.

Contentious situations frequently show that discord arises wherever a line needs to be drawn. In February this year, FIFA was involved in a debate with the Premier League in Locke's home country following the announcement of the Premier League's intention to hold an "international round" outside England. The Premier League maintained that its plans were quite legitimate but, as the President of FIFA, I held the view that such expansionism contradicted the very substance and spirit of the world governing body's Statutes.

No-one would dispute that English club football has a huge following in every corner of the globe and that fans would gladly flock to the stadiums to see English clubs ply their trade. But such schemes are ill-conceived because they simply do not benefit the game of football as a whole and, according to the Statutes, it is the associations that control football in their own countries. Events of this kind would greatly jeopardise a sustainable development of domestic football in those countries where such matches were held.

Another example of the need to draw a line is the question of whether football should resort to technological aids. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and FIFA prefer to leave it to the human factor to rule over such matters. At its meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, at the end of March, IFAB, as the guardian of the Laws of the Game, put all technical experiments with goal-line technology on ice for the time being but at the same time approved an experiment involving two additional assistant referees.

FIFA has drawn lines of quite another nature in an area where the Task Force "For the Good of the Game" had sensed a potentially huge threat. Modern technology, and especially the opportunities for sports betting via the internet, represents an insidious danger to the integrity of the game. But FIFA did not hesitate to take action in the face of this latest challenge. In full compliance with its Statutes, it immediately took pre-emptive measures to protect the game by setting up the Early Warning System GmbH, which is in the spotlight in this edition of the FIFA Magazine.

FIFA invariably draws the line where excessive expansionism, blind belief in technology and attempted manipulation threaten to damage or jeopardise the very nature and spirit of football. Not for itself, but For the Game. For the World.