Blatter says men's football safe in Olympics

Updated: 30 September 2009 08:27 IST

FIFA and the IOC can reach an agreement to keep men's football in the Olympics despite a dispute over age limits, president Sepp Blatter said on Tuesday.

Rio de Janeiro:

FIFA and the International Olympic Committee can reach an agreement to keep men's football in the Olympics despite a dispute over age limits, president Joseph Blatter said on Tuesday.

Blatter said FIFA has a taskforce discussing the eligibility criteria of players, but dismissed any concerns that a failed agreement with the IOC would keep men's football from the games.

"I don't think football will be excluded from the Olympics," Blatter said after a FIFA executive committee meeting.

"I think there is a lot of commonsense when speaking of the IOC. They have responsibilities toward the international federations and we have responsibilities toward the Olympics."

FIFA favors dropping the age limit to 21 instead of the current 23, or even abolishing the limit but barring all players with World Cup experience. The IOC would like to keep the age limit at 23 with the exception of three overage players, but Europe's top clubs want FIFA to make the tournament an under-21 event. The IOC says that would diminish the quality of the tournament.

Blatter said the taskforce will study both options, but did not rule out the possibility of another alternative to keep football in the games.

FIFA and the IOC have struggled to reach an agreement on player eligibility since current rules almost prevented Barcelona star Lionel Messi from leading Argentina to the gold medal in Beijing last year.

"Olympic football is very attractive for the Olympic Games," Blatter said. "We have a huge and large history in the Olympic Games. More than 100 years of participation. I'm sure we can (overcome) the difficulties which may have (surfaced) in the past."

He added that he doesn't see an end to this "love story" of football in the Olympics.

"This will not happen, I'm sure," Blatter said, adding that he will try to talk about the issue with IOC president Jacques Rogge in Copenhagen, where both will be this week for the announcement of the host city of the 2016 Olympics.

The taskforce - which will include a representative of each confederation - is expected to present its findings at FIFA's December meeting in South Africa.

The women's Olympic tournament has no age restrictions.

Blatter said he was satisfied with the preparations for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but said the country's transportation system still needs to be "improved."

He also said security in Brazil will not be a problem ahead of the 2014 World Cup, and confirmed that Morumbi Stadium needs to be updated if it wants to host the opening match or a semifinal.

Blatter announced that FIFA later this month will make further recommendations to "reconfirm to all referees what is permitted ant not permitted" in the laws of the game in an effort to improve uniformity in their decisions. He also said he was against player suspensions like the one handed by UEFA to Arsenal's Eduardo da Silva, who earned a two-match ban for diving. The ban was later dismissed on appeal.

"I don't think it's so terrible that we should after a match intervene," Blatter said. "They should intervene on violent play. Violence is what is damaging the game."

In other decisions from the five-hour meeting:

- The eight European teams in the World Cup qualifying playoffs will be seeded based on FIFA's world rankings.

- On the international calendar, the second matches of double dates will be moved from Wednesday to Tuesday, beginning in September 2010. The first matches will remain either on Friday or Saturday.

- The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam was suspended because of government interference.

- FIFA's first medical conference was confirmed for Zurich on October 17-18, addressing the themes of prevention, information and respect.

- FIFA's transfer matching system - an online anti-corruption project aimed at adding transparency to player transfers - will have to be fully implemented by all associations beginning in September 2010. FIFA said the system also will be used to enforce new regulations on the protection of minors. Beginning on Thursday, electronic international transfer certificates will be introduced for the transfer of professional players, and from Sept. 1 2010, only electronic certificates will be accepted.

Topics : Football Olympics 2012
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