FIFA president calls for less club competition

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:07 IST

FIFA president Sepp Blatter called on soccer clubs to reduce their schedules to allow players to compete more regularly in national team competitions.

FIFA president calls for less club competition

Lima:

FIFA president Sepp Blatter called on soccer clubs to reduce their schedules to allow players to compete more regularly in national team competitions. The head of soccer's governing body complained yesterday that an international schedule agreed upon by FIFA's executive board four years ago has not been respected, giving way to permanent feuds between club officials and national teams officials over player availability. "It could be resolved if there is less soccer played at the club level," Blatter said during a visit to Peru for today's Copa America final. "We should continue to respect the national teams." Latin American commentators and fans have complained that South America's national team championship has lost its lustre since many of the region's top players asked to sit out this year's tournament after gruelling European seasons. While Europe's top stars participated in the European Championship in June, the Copa America coincides with the start of preseason training camps in Europe. Blatter said a reduced club schedule would also prevent an "oversaturation" of matches, particularly on television, and would ultimately be beneficial for the health of the players. "We should protect the players," he said. "If they have to play five times in two weeks, how are they going to rest or train? "There are many countries like Spain, Italy, France, and Germany that in addition to their domestic championships have internal championships," Blatter said. "We have to find a way to reduce the amount of club football." Blatter said he hoped FIFA would address the issue during its congress next year. "The international calendar is very important for our sport," he said. In other soccer-related issues, Blatter said FIFA officials were also evaluating the possibility of allowing more competitions to be played on artificial turf, including World Cup qualifying matches. Several artificial surfaces are currently being tested and Blatter said they were similar in appearance to natural grass. "This will help make the game faster," he said. "This is not a revolution of the sport, but an evolution." Looking toward the next Copa America, the president of South America's soccer federation Nicolas Leoz said Australia had expressed interest in taking part in the 2007 championship in Venezuela. The three-week tournament usually involves 10 teams from South America and two guests from the CONCACAF region. Leoz said South American officials were examining the prospect of expanding the number of teams, and should Australia participate, it would also look to possibly include a third CONCACAF team. (AP)



Topics : Football
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