FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter held a press conference in Amsterdam on 30 June, accompanied by General Secretary Urs Linsi, Director of the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 Harry Been and Chairman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Youth Championship Jack A. Warner. Read on for key excerpts.
Joseph S. Blatter, FIFA President
On the competition
FIFA is proud of the performances of all 24 teams. Only one of them seemed to be less well prepared than the others. The semi-finals gave us two clashes between teams from the same continent: South America and Africa. That doesn't surprise me because these two continents have been sending players to the major European leagues for years. What we saw was simply a confirmation.
On the Morocco incident
Of course, we must condemn the scandalous attitude of the supporters of the Moroccan team. An inquiry is underway and a disciplinary case has been opened. The Moroccan Association offered their apologies this morning. But there was never any question of abandoning the match because this type of incident should never affect the progress of a competition. If we had abandoned the match, any over-zealous fan might try and do the same thing to stop another competition. There was also the possibility of having the game played behind closed doors, but we didn't want that in a FIFA World Youth Championship. In the end, we decided that the team captain will make a speech before the match for third place, presenting an apology on behalf of the team and asking the supporters for calm. And I'm sure that the Moroccans will behave.
As far as any punishment goes, I don't yet know what FIFA's Disciplinary Committee will decide. That will depend on the reports of the Match Commissioner, the police and the LOC. And concerning the two players sent off, the Disciplinary Committee is of course looking into these cases as well. Nothing has been decided yet, however.
On the organisation
We wish to warmly compliment the organisers and let them know we have appreciated the efforts they have put in. The stadiums were small but welcoming and perfectly adapted to the task. In a word, they were modern. We would also like to thank the authorities, particularly those in the cities hosting the 24 teams involved, who were perfect.
On the FIFA Confederations Cup
Holding the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Youth Championship at the same time was undoubtedly not an ideal scenario. But the result was rather positive and, in the end, there were very few games that clashed. We will nonetheless do everything we can to avoid a repeat of this kind of situation in the future. It's difficult, though, since the various calendars don't give us a lot of choice.
On a FIFA World Cup in the Netherlands
"He who tries nothing has nothing". The Netherlands are undoubtedly capable of organising a World Cup, but not with such small stadiums. Given this enthusiasm here and the central position in Europe geographically, anything is possible, though.
On the refereeing experiments
I think the experiments worked rather well. It's true that the one stipulating that a player should be shown a yellow card for touching the ball after play has been stopped led to some strange situations. But that's because, as with any Law of the Game, common sense and psychology are required in its application. The referees themselves need a period of adaptation. They have very strict instructions. We're going to continue with these experiments with the U-17s in Peru this September, after which we'll send our report to the IFAB. The Board will then decide whether or not this innovation should be added to Law 12. We'll by trying out another experiment in Peru as well: a microchip in the ball that will make it possible to determine whether it has crossed the line. If it is successful, we could use this new technology at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
On Australia joining the AFC
It's true that Australia joining the Asian Confederation was not a straightforward case. But I can assure you that Australia didn't make this choice to have an easier qualifying campaign. The OFC wanted to "get rid" of Australia because it realised they had a stranglehold on all the places in FIFA competitions. The other countries haven't got a hope, and when that disappears so does motivation. It's negative for the development of football in the region. As for the Australians, they don't have any rivals on the same footing in the OFC, and they need good opposition if they want to progress. They'll get that in Asia. Besides, nothing in FIFA's statutes prevents such a switch. It comes down to a decision by the Executive Committee. It's true there is the danger of a precedent, and we'll have to look into that.
Harry Been, Director of the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005
I knew it (Netherlands 2005) would be a fantastic tournament and I wasn't wrong. Of course, the Morocco incident has tainted the end a little, but, nonetheless, more than 500,000 supporters have filled the stadiums, which is a great success. That's a lot more people than we had predicted. At the end of the day, I think the two best teams have qualified for the final. We've seen some extraordinary players like Lionel Messi, John Obi Mikel, Fernando Llorente, Oleksandr Aliiev, Graziano Pelle and so on.
I was particularly delighted by the enthusiasm of the volunteers in each of the host cities. You must never forget that they are the cornerstones of the organisational effort. What's more, the cooperation with FIFA has been excellent, so I think we can say it was a success. As a side note, in finishing fifth the Netherlands were the best European team!
Urs Linsi, FIFA General Secretary
This event has been a huge success, including at the media level. 170 countries bought broadcasting rights, which is a lot more than we were expecting. And, out of interest, the Netherlands-Australia first round match was watched by a television audience of 2.5 million, and that's a remarkable figure.