So Sepp Blatter has attacked the ill-disciplined cheaters of the modern game. In what would almost certainly be described as a rant if it contained the word “fact” and was delivered by a Premiership manager sporting a goatee, the President of FIFA laid into behaviour which he says has become “a threat to the game’s future”. Amazingly, no-one at the Soccerex conference in Johannesburg asked Blatter the most important question: “Where have you been for the past twenty years?”
Here’s the full story in The Guardian.
Now we know the FAI asked to go to South Africa as the 33rd team. How this would work in practice isn’t clear. In his defence, Blatter pointed out that FIFA would have to take Costa Rica as well after the Central Americans lost out in similar fashion to Uruguay. Under those circumstances who would be the 33rd and 34th teams? It’s all beside the point anyway, says Rob Kelly in the Telegraph.
The Times sees Blatter as “the game’s biggest fan”, one who is tired of the “charlatans”. Fair enough, but what will he do about them? Abandoning his hostility to video technology is looking more likely by the day, says the paper. Blatter also wants more respect for referees and the rules of the game. The number of officials could be raised to five per game. He is even considering a move away from using play offs to decide qualification, a system most people regard as flawed. This is all very promising. Let’s hope it isn’t all just hot air.
Determined not to sit on the fence, SKY Sports says FIFA is “99%” certain to boost the number of officials. This is despite failing to provide a single piece of evidence or a quote to back this assertion up. The report also says “the extra refs - one of whom would almost certainly have spotted Henry's offence against the Irish - would stand behind the goal-line beyond the keeper's right-hand post.” The first part of that statement is debatable to say the least, and the second makes them sound like glorified ball boys.