Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FIFA's chief Sepp Blatter's thoughts on Asia

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter gave his thoughts about some of the issues concerning Asian football at the Asian Football Confederation’s congress held during the FIFA meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. Asian journalists filed a number of news stories including:

European club's Asian tours "a circus"

Goal.com quoted the claim that there was little FIFA could do to prevent European powerhouses raising money in the East:

“We are waiting for 'Asian markets to reject the teams' who had nothing but money on their minds. We have no solution for the time being and such holiday tours have to be rejected by the markets themselves," said Blatter. "It is a circus and they come there to take your money."

"These teams go East and West and play when they should be resting. But when FIFA asks them to participate in its events they are too tired after all the travelling and playing. You can cheat everybody but not football fans who know these teams are in Asia not for football but for money. They pay huge amounts of money for buying the players and have to recover it through such trips. But we cannot intervene in the market which is governed by demand and supply. The phenomena has to work."


Anger at G-14 Group

"Blatter's anger is also directed at the 'G-14' group of clubs - which includes Real Madrid, Manchester Untied, Liverpool and Arsenal - who have challenged FiIFA in court, forbidden under FIFA statutes", reported Mihir Bose in The Telegraph.

He also quoted one "senior FIFA source" as saying: "we're really concerned about G-14. They want an American-style NFL super league with no promotion and relegation - totally against the pyramid structure of our game."


Who claimed 50 million players in India?

Bobilli Vijay in the Times of India reported that Blatter, "the suave FIFA president", denied the global football body was looking towards India merely because of its size or its population:

"I know there are over a billion people in your country and I hear that there's lot of passion for the game," [Blatter] said. "But we are not really interested in making money there. We want good football from your country. Yes, I am very excited about its potential as a market but that's not our first priority. We want a strong Indian team first as that will take our beautiful game to a higher plane," he said.

Vijay added that Blatter also dealt on various subjects critical to uplift soccer in the Asian continent:

"The British took cricket and hockey to India. I wish they had taken football instead. You would have been a major force on the world today," he added, flashing his famous smile. He, however, felt that all was not lost.

"I am told that over 50 million youngsters are playing soccer in India. Is it true," he asked this incredulous writer. Clearly, somebody is telling him some nice stories.

In another article, Vijay explained further:

Somewhere in Marrakech, as a fragrant wind floated in the air and time came to a standstill, one happened to discover the lie that Indian football is telling the world.

"We have four robust divisions in our country, of 12 strong teams each," one heard a very senior Indian official proudly tell another delegate at the Asian football congress ...

One desperately tried to envision hundreds and thousands of little Indians pouring out into the streets with a soccer ball at their feet. But alas, only images of a few men, soaked in mud and waddling through knee-deep slush in the Mumbai monsoon league, fluttered in the mind.

One could only look back at Blatter blankly and smile: after all, Indian pride was at stake and, in such scenarios, blank smiles are the best vehicles to escape without harming anybody or anything.

No comments: