On Thursday 14 February 2008, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter met British journalists for a round-table discussion about the English Premier League's plans to play an extra (39th) league match abroad, as well as the 6+5 rule.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter
Concerning the Premier League's plans
I am amazed, yet actually not particularly surprised by the suggestion. I don't really know whether I should be appalled or whether I should laugh about it. It definitely does not fit in with the notion of Corporate Social Responsibility which was adopted at the 2007 FIFA Congress. Everyone needs to assume their own responsibilities. Those who think that they are the best - i.e. the Premier League - should first and foremost demonstrate their social responsibility to others.
Deriving supplementary income by extending the Premier League around the world is not acceptable. It will not be accepted by the FIFA Executive Committee. Certain members of the Executive Committee have already given their opinions on the matter, and I am yet to hear much support coming from England for this project. In commercial terms it is certainly not enforceable and it goes against the ideas of social responsibility and solidarity.
I will bring it up at the Executive Committee in March and at the FIFA Congress in May. I am sure that it will be rejected. We will advise the national associations not to accept this offer.
I have not yet been contacted by anyone about this, either from the league or from the English FA. I wonder whether the clubs themselves are actually in favour. If extra games are to be played then the English fans should be able to benefit from them.
The same people who complain about there being too many international matches, international players being unavailable for duty and there being not enough time for players to recover from the number of matches played now want to travel the world and play extra football matches. Are these people really thinking about players' health? This is their responsibility as well.
Thus far, the marriage between football and television has been of great benefit to both parties, but these two partners should not push things too far, and I think that in this case, it is going beyond the breaking point.
About the influence of these plans on England's chances of
applying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™
If you oppose the FIFA World Cup decision-makers - namely the FIFA Executive Committee - then you cannot expect the very same board to make a decision in your favour. But I do not want to rule out the chances of any country that wishes to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
On the planned 6+5 rule in football
When a young player joins a club, he hardly stands a chance and consequently has little motivation to play in the first team since those in charge buy other players on the international market. And the clubs are not motivated to put more money and expert knowledge into youth development and develop their own talent. The national identity of clubs also needs to be reinforced.
This has three advantages: fans can identify with their team better, it gives clubs a chance to develop their own players and bring them through into the first team, which reduces costs, and thirdly the quality of the national team is improved. And all this makes a championship more balanced. We will put this forward at the FIFA Congress and then prepare it carefully: when do we start, which season etc. We may have to start in the 2009-2010 season with four players and then move up to five and eventually by the 2011-2012 season increase it to six players.