FIFA and the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005 held a press conference in Lima on 1 October. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, vice-president Jack A. Warner and General Secretary Urs Linsi shared their thoughts on the level of the competition, the new experiments, the quality of CONCACAF teams and much more. Here is what they had to say.
Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA President
On the competition
I'm very satisfied. This FIFA U-17 World Championship has been a great success thanks to the efforts of the Peruvians and the 16 teams present, who have played a modern and entertaining blend of football. We've seen that there are no 'little teams' anymore. The qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ are proof of that too: only one team has qualified in Europe and none in Africa. All that is the result of 25 years of development.
When we first spoke to the Peruvian Federation, we were a little concerned about Iquitos. And then the President of the Republic Alejandro Toledo intervened, insisting that Iquitos be one of the host cities. At the end of the day, I think we chose well. You only have to look at the fairness of the crowd during the Peru - Costa Rica match to see that. It was extraordinary.
On artificial pitches
It's the first time that an entire tournament has been played on artificial pitches and I've not heard a single negative comment - either from the players or the referees. So there's no reason to stop something that's going well. Having said that, it's obvious that we need artificial pitches of a very high quality.
On the UNICEF/FIFA joint programme
We launched the 'Los chicos siempre ganan !' joint programme and I have to say it was very moving. It is a huge success and we should say so. I saw a group of children today and it was very impressive. It proves how much of a force football is if it can improve the lives of Peruvians. Football can give people hope, which is very important.
On new technology
We've had some interesting results with the 'intelligent ball'. The IFAB decided we could try this experiment and we'll be repeating it at the FIFA Club World Championship Toyota Cup Japan 2005.
On the performance of the South American teams
It's true that South American teams are doing fantastically well in FIFA competitions: the 2005 Confederations Cup, the World Youth Championship and now the U-17s. On the other hand, it's getting harder and harder for them to make it to the final. I was at the Brazil - Japan match in the Confederations Cup and I can tell you that Brazil came within two centimetres of being eliminated.
The FIFA Statutes state that a player cannot be transferred until he is 18 years of age. Certain clubs couldn't care less. We've got a real problem with agents, transfers and clubs. That's why we created a task force at the Congress in Marrakech to try and solve this problem.
Urs Linsi, FIFA General Secretary
There are matches every day, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Corruption is therefore inevitable. We don't live in a perfect world, but we're here to try and address the problem. The philosophy of FIFA is to protect the beautiful game.
On the international calendar
There are more and more competitions and players play in more and more matches. That's why we implemented the international calendar. We intend to make sure everyone respects it because it's also our responsibility to protect the health of the players. Sometimes clubs refuse to release their players for international matches. Everyone has to make compromises and that's exactly what the international calendar is there for.
On the level of the competition
The members of the FIFA Technical Study Group have already told us they've never seen such quality at an U-17 event. The gap between the teams is narrowing and there is more competitiveness. For that reason, we're going to expand the tournament to 24 teams next time around.
On technological advances
It's very simple. The Laws of the Game are decided by the IFAB. FIFA sits on that board and has four votes. We meet twice every year. Next May, we'll report to the IFAB on the results of our experiments. But the referee remains the one who decides. Technology can help him make his decision, that's all. And, whatever it is, the technology must be used during play - we can't stop the game. Therefore it has to be extremely precise technology. So it isn't easy and it costs money. We can make further progress at the FIFA Club World Championship.
Jack A. Warner, FIFA vice-president of and President of the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA U-17 World Championship
On the performance of CONCACAF teams
It is no coincidence that Mexico are in the final. They are there as a result of all the efforts that have been made and those efforts have paid off. Their success is also thanks to Development work done by the Confederation, and is the best example of what every CONCACAF country needs to do. FIFA's Development programmes have significantly helped a number of so-called 'minor' teams to raise the level of their game. And that justifies the fact we are increasing to 24 teams next time. The Executive Committee must now decide how those places are allocated across the continents.