Just hours before the bronze medal match and final of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament 2008, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter attended a press conference in Beijing. Accompanied by FIFA's Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Director of Competitions Jim Brown, the FIFA President spoke about the Olympic Tournaments and other football-related matters.
On the Olympic Football Tournaments
Joseph S. Blatter: We are pleased with the development of football in these past weeks, and the results obtained. Compliments and gratitude to BOCOG and CFA for organising this competition. We have reached an all-time attendance record with 1.9 million spectators, and will have had over two million spectators by the end of the football tournaments. This is a figure that we are very proud of.
On the CAS case
We have settled all problems except one, which is Rafinha from Schalke 04. After the competition, we will have the time and distance to settle this problem. We will go to a mediation, which is also foreseen by the legislation in the CAS, to clarify the situation smoothly and reach a conclusion.
On the future of the Olympic Football TournamentsAfter this competition, we shall review how the Olympic Football Tournaments will be organised. The FIFA Executive Committee will take action to protect the Games. The next ones will be organised for London in 2012. I will make a proposal that the Football Tournaments shall be included in the international match calendar. This will be discussed at the Executive Committee Meeting and presented to the Congress in 2009.
On the release of playersVery few teams included overage players - one of them was Argentina with Riquelme and Mascherano. This is what we want to discuss with the IOC, to stop at the age of 23. There was a gentleman's agreement between FC Barcelona's President Laporta and the Argentinian FA's President Julio Grondona. Therefore the CAS decision did not affect Barcelona and Messi is an attraction not only in the football tournament, but also in the Olympic Games in general.
On RefereesWomen's refereeing has improved greatly. If you compare performances from last year's World Cup and this competition, the women's referees have made good progress. For the men, all referees who have been here are on a preliminary list for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and have the potential to officiate at that competition. It's a group of younger referees.
On a British football team
From a FIFA point of view, nothing has changed. I'm not sure if progress has been made in Great Britain. The Olympic Committee of Great Britain, not England, is entering the athletes. It's up to Great Britain and their Olympic Committee to take a decision, and I'm convinced they will find it.
On the status of football in China PR
In football, there are no miracles. There is hard work to be done. Where football has been developed at youth level, you will find a good national team. They should start again with the young players. There must be a short-term and long-term plan. The organisation of Olympics should have a positive impact on football. We know that there is an interest in organising the next World Cup. We have eight to ten contenders for 2018, so we would like to open the bidding for 2018 and 2022.
On the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™There will be meetings in South Africa between the 15th and 18th of September. The FIFA delegation will be chaired by the President and the objectives are to re-ensure that when the political elections arrive next year, the outgoing and new government are all behind the organisation. Trust South Africa to organise it. The legacy of this World Cup is not only to make African football better recognised around the world, but also that the country of South Africa benefits from the event in all areas. Football will have given something special to this country.