Blatter: Professional referees are the way forward (part 3)
kicker: How do you see the position of the G14 in relation to FIFA and UEFA?
Blatter: This grouping of clubs is recognised neither by UEFA nor by FIFA, and they've even summoned us in front of the Swiss Commission for Competition. I don't think that's good, not for the sport, not economically, not morally.
Is the G14 damaging football as a whole?
Football lives from the extreme emotions in professional football. We need professional football. We need the clubs who are in this group to help promote world football. There's no way round them. But everyone should be aware of their responsibility and react accordingly. The more rights you have, the more duties and responsibilities come with it.
Fifteen European leagues including the German DFL recently gathered in Brussels to establish the European Professional Football League (EPFL). Is this another step towards marginalising FIFA, UEFA and the national associations?
UEFA structures include the Club Forum, the league panel and the Congress of Associations. Anything else which doesn't come under this is basically illegal. It runs contrary to the pyramidal structure of football. It's just about possible to imagine every European league coming together because the associations weren't up to the mark - but what's happened again is a coming together of the so-called rich professional leagues.
Is the classic association model no longer appropriate to professional football?
It's basically an economic problem, regarding what both the clubs and the leagues are trying to achieve. Money is all the clubs are interested in, and the leagues want a greater say in organising the game. FIFA's new statutes were unanimously adopted a year ago, and what it says in black and white is that the leagues are subordinate to the associations.
Turning to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, has FIFA identified any issues that need addressing?
This World Cup is like a home game for us because we're right next door. I must pay a compliment to our colleagues responsible for the organisation in Germany. When they take something on they do it properly. It's better than first class. In terms of organisation I don't think anything can go wrong now, apart from the kind of thing we in football and society in general cannot influence - a natural disaster for example. You can never be 100 percent sure.
The small ticket quotas for German fans have attracted strong criticism in the country.
You've adopted a slogan which says 'A time to make friends', so the host nation can't have all the tickets.
A couple of thousand tickets for the hosts isn't a lot.
The fact is that two million applications have come in and more than 80 percent are from Germany. In all probability a majority of the tickets in the first sales phase will go to German fans. And more tickets will come on the market after the first phase.
Some two-thirds of the tickets won't go to the fans. They will end up with sponsors and the like.
But a lot of these tickets will end up with the fans via competitions and lotteries. Just wait and see what the likes of McDonald's or Phillips lay on before the tournament.
What do you think of the agreement regarding Public Viewing?
A vote of thanks to the Infront agency, they were very generous. We had Public Viewing in South Korea and it was a massive success.
Will agencies be responsible for World Cup TV rights in the future, or will FIFA take over the business itself?
In 1996 we decided to work with agencies after mixed experiences with a consortium of international TV stations. We're open as to what happens next. We put it out to tender and we received 22 bids. We'll deal with it on the Executive Committee.
When will you decide?
In June, during the Confederations Cup in Germany.
Infront look to be in pole position.
I'm not going to comment now. For us it's important everything works out, and not just from a financial perspective. We need to watch how the rights are shared out among the TV stations.
You have just signed another long-term extension with adidas, FIFA's oldest partner.
It's a good deal.
Other equipment suppliers don't appear to have a chance.
That's not the case, but the one rival bidder wasn't prepared to make a legally-binding offer.
Fewer Official Partners but more income: is that FIFA's new strategy?
We've decided to take on only six Global Partners. We'll accept six to eight World Cup sponsors on top, together with 4-6 National Suppliers. That means we can go in search of new sponsors for the Women's World Cup. The six Global Partners will be present at every event. The other sponsors from different sectors can appear at specific events.
Many players, especially youths, are switching national teams.
It's not what we intended when we changed the regulations regarding young players. Youths up to the age of 21 with dual nationality were handed the right to decide for themselves which country they wished to play for. In the past the age limit was fixed at 16 if they'd already appeared for a country. But it was a mistake to set the limit at 21. It's turned into a tug of war. Suddenly playing for your country is not just about prestige; there's hard cash involved. We should fix the limit at 18, but we don't have a proposal to that effect at the moment.