The President of world football’s governing body, Joseph S. Blatter, has had a busy week, attending both a meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee and the FIFA Congress. Taking stock of a hectic few days, he held a press conference on Thursday, giving his views on FIFA’s excellent state of health, refereeing, the next term of office and a number of other issues.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter
On the FIFA Congress
We are moving forward on the decisions we took in Nassau on policy issues. There are two very important areas to look at here: the transfer system and the protection of minors, which go together. We began focusing our efforts on the protection of minors in October 2009 and the initial signs are very encouraging. A number of cases have already been entered in the system [Transfer Matching System, TMS] although protection can only work if players are registered. Registration is vital if we are to prevent the exodus of players, although there is no way we can bring it to a complete stop. I think we will have more control by 2011. In addition to that we also spoke about 6+5, Football For Hope and 1GOAL: Education For All, a very important project that will come up for discussion at a meeting on 7 July.
On FIFA’s excellent state of health
Since 2002 we have witnessed some radical changes at FIFA, especially in terms of finance. It has taken time. First of all, people had to get used to the new President. The second point to make here concerns our new approach to Rights, which has been of help to the member associations since 1999. Lastly, Jerome Valcke joined FIFA in 2003 and has changed the way we look at our commercial strategy and television. We have also had to develop the game, however. If we hadn’t, we would not have been able to make it a good product. The FIFA World Cup is a successful product because football is a successful product, and that is the case because we have worked towards its development.
Although there are lots of cameras trained on the mistakes that referees make these days, the use of technology in football doesn’t help because there are several dimensions to the game. The trials we ran with goal-line technology were not conclusive either. Having a referee on the pitch is the basis of football. We can use assistants for refereeing but I honestly think that the man in the middle is vital. The IFAB did not find the experiment with four and five referees in the Europa League entirely convincing. And you can also say that refereeing itself bears some responsibility in all this and that it has to become a real profession, something more than a hobby.
On the next FIFA President
I still feel motivated and I am free. I told the members of the Congress I was going to run for office again because I want to be transparent. I cannot say if it will be my last time. Who knows? I do not feel as if my mission is over and I want society to see the social role that football has to play, especially in educating children. We have developed the game. Thanks to our competitions we have managed to touch the world, and I want us to make a contribution to building a better world. I want to work for young people and for future generations.
On the issue of altitude
The subject of altitude is not on FIFA’s agenda. We are currently carrying out a study analysing football in extreme conditions. I did see, though, that all the South American teams played in La Paz last year and it didn’t change a thing. If altitude were such an advantage, Bolivia would have qualified for the World Cup, wouldn’t they?